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Bangladesh data centre sets fire, loss of life reported

Written by Mon 30 Oct 2023

A fire at Khawaja Tower in Dhaka on 26 October has resulted in substantial internet disruptions in Bangladesh.

The Dhaka fire department arrived at the scene at 17:07 and controlled the fire by 19:30. The Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence reported on Facebook that the fire was fully extinguished by 08:15 on the following morning.

A total of 12 units responded to the incident, including teams from the army, navy, air force, police, and other agencies. 

The building located on Bir Uttam AK Khandaker Road housed several Internet gateways, exchanges, and data centres. Multiple International Internet Gateways (IIGs) and data centres were destroyed by the blaze. Level 3, Max Hub, We Networks, Earthnet, and Windstream IIGs were reportedly affected.

Around 40% of the country’s broadband internet users experienced outages as a result of the fire. A total of 20% of mobile internet users said they encountered issues with data and voice services.

“As a result, we have already lost 70-80% of our bandwidth. The service of 550-600 ISP organisations across the country is at the stage of closure,” said Emdadul Hoque, President of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), to the United News of Bangladesh.

Hoque urged law enforcement to allow the ISPAB to enter the building at the earliest possibility to allow the transfer of goods if the building is at risk.

“It will take at least a week to restore internet speed to normal due to the amount of damage caused by the Khawaja Tower fire incident. And if the devices burn, it may take longer,” said Hoque.

The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh said they were working with mobile operators in collaboration with relevant Interconnection Exchange (ICX) operators to relocate the connections to another location. 

“We hope to improve the situation soon. We would appreciate everyone to bear with this inconvenience caused due to this fire incident,” said the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.

Fire in Dhaka Results in Tragedy

Sadly, the fire at the Khawaha Tower resulted in three deaths.

Police identified the victims as Rafiqul Islam, 63, Aklima Rahman, 33, and Hasna Hena, 27. Islam worked as a project coordinator at Saif Powertec on the 13th floor, while Rahman and Hena were reportedly employed by an Internet service provider on the ninth floor. A further 10 people were injured in the blaze.

The fire department raised concerns about the building’s inadequate fire safety precautions.

“We found some fire extinguishers on different floors, and they were working. But the fire spread due to the presence of a large amount of flammable materials,” said General Md Main Uddin, Fire Service and Civil Defence Chief Brigadier, to the Dhaka Tribune.

How the fire started has yet to be announced. Law enforcement will investigate the cause of the blaze in the coming days.

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Written by Mon 30 Oct 2023

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