Fire guts hundreds of shelters in Rohingya refugee camp

A massive fire has destroyed hundreds of shelters in a sprawling Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh -- A devastating fire raced through a sprawling Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Monday, destroying hundreds of shelters and leaving thousands homeless, officials and witnesses said.

The fire at Balukhali camp in Cox's Bazar district broke out in the late afternoon and spread quickly through at least four blocks, said Mohammad Shamsud Douza, additional commissioner of the government's Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission. He said at least four units of firefighters were struggling to control the blaze due to its rapid spread.

Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, said in an email that fire services, rescue and response teams and volunteers were at the scene.

“So far the fire has affected shelters, health centers, distribution points and other facilities. Volunteers are supporting those affected,” she said.

Several videos posted on social media showed clouds of smoke billowing from the camp.

Bangladesh has sheltered more than a million Rohingya Muslims, the vast majority having fled Myanmar in 2017 in a major crackdown by Myanmar's military. The U.N. has said the crackdown had a genocidal intent, a charge Myanmar rejects.

In January, another fire destroyed hundreds of shanty-like homes in the camp, leaving thousands without shelter.

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