- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

DHAKA, BANGLADESH (AP) - A fire swept through Bangladesh’s largest shopping mall Friday, sending frightened shoppers fleeing outside. At least 17 people were injured, local TV reported.

The blaze broke out on the 18th floor of the capital’s 22-story Bashundhara City mall, fire official Selina Chowdhury said. The flames were spreading to other floors despite efforts by 15 firefighting vehicles, she said.

Private TV station Bangla Vision said at least 17 people became ill after inhaling smoke and were taken to a hospital.

Television footage showed huge flames shooting into the air amid billowing smoke as hundreds of people, many carrying shopping bags, ran out of the mall.

Opened in 2004, the mall has more than 2,000 stores and cafes.

The cause of the fire was not known. The floor where it began is home to offices of the mall’s owning company, Bashundhara, which are supposed to be closed on Friday, the weekend in Bangladesh.

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