Note: Image, February 2022. Source: Background map from Google Earth.
BM Container Depot is an inland container depot located at Sitakunda, 40 km north of the Port of Chittagong, Bangladesh. The Dutch/Bangladeshi joint venture started operations in 2011 as a buffer between Bangladesh’s main port and its largest city, Dhaka, 250 km north. The area is part of a heavy manufacturing complex involved in recycling and steelmaking, mainly from the dismantling of ships.
On June 5, 2022, a fire broke out at the container depot and was followed by a giant chemical explosion linked to hydrogen peroxide stored in containers at the depot. The explosion sent fireballs into the sky. The force of the blast was felt kilometers away. At least 43 people died, and hundreds were injured, including many firefighters, volunteers and journalists. The depot stores around 4,000 containers, many of them filled with garments destined for Western retailers. The facility employed about 600 workers. Around 90 percent of Bangladesh foreign trade passes through the nearby port of Chittagong at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, which handled above 2.7 million TEUs in 2021. Container shipping is particularly important to the garment industry, which account for 90% of Bangladeshi exports. Similar to the 2015 Tianjin port explosions, the accident is related to the improper storage and inventory of dangerous goods at terminal facilities.