DHAKA, Bangladesh –
A helicopter plucked survivors from the roof of Bangladesh's biggest shopping mall Friday as a fire raced through the upper levels of the high-rise complex, killing at least four people and injuring at least 50 others.
Huge flames shot into the air amid billowing smoke as hundreds of panicked people, many carrying shopping bags, fled Dhaka's 22-story Bashundhara City mall, which has more than 2,000 stores and cafes.
A security guard died at a hospital hours after the blaze broke out on the 18th floor, fire official Selina Chowdhury said.
Firefighters recovered three more bodies, all of them men, from an elevator late Friday after the fire was brought under control, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police official Mahbubur Rahman.
Fifteen fire trucks responded, but the flames still spread quickly. Troops and police joined firefighters in the rescue work, said Abul Kalam Azad, spokesman for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
An air force helicopter rescued three people, including the mall's chief security officer, from the roof, Rahman said.
Rahman said the blaze was fanned by summer winds. The firefighters took nearly seven hours to douse the flames, he said.
It was unclear how many people were inside the mall when the fire started.
Doctors at Shamarita Hospital said 17 people were being treated there for smoke inhalation. Other hospitals reported receiving at least 33 people suffering from smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered a three-member committee to probe it.
The floor where it began has the offices of the mall's owner, the Bashundhara company, which would normally be closed Friday, part of the weekend in Bangladesh. The mall opened in 2004.