Firefighters battled for more than 12 hours on Monday to try to bring under control a blaze at a commercial centre housing 4,000 shops and stalls in Myanmar's biggest city, but no casualties were reported, officials said.
Mingalar Zay, a five-storey market complex in Yangon, burst into flames around 8 a.m. and officials said firefighters manning 79 trucks were still trying to put out the fire long after nightfall.
"Fortunately, there were not many people inside the building when the fire first broke out, since the market had just opened," said the owner of a pharmacy at the market. "Otherwise, there would definitely be a very high death toll."
He said shops were devastated and stock was ruined. Traders said the fire will likely impact the cost of local goods and food.
Witnesses said loud blasts were heard inside the building when cooking gas cylinders in restaurants exploded. A spell of rain in the afternoon had stopped the fire spreading initially.
The fire was started by the overheating of a battery charger on the fourth floor, local traders said.
Myanmar is plagued almost daily by acute power shortages and factories, shops and hospitals are often affected by blackouts. Many people rely on batteries during power cuts and fires are common as a result of chargers overheating.
A total of 719 fires were recorded in Myanmar in 2008, killing 28 people and wounding 52, according to the latest available data.
ReutersLast Mod: 25 Mayıs 2010, 08:36