Fire devastates Yadanabon market building

Feb 26, 2008 (DVB), Firefighters struggled to control a fire which broke out at Yadanabon market in Mandalay yesterday, leaving a shopping mall, information technology park and private businesses devastated.

The fire broke out at around 8am yesterday, shortly after the market opened, and was not brought under control until around 7pm.

The market building also houses the Skywalk shopping mall and the Myanmar Information and Communications Technology park, which were both destroyed in the blaze.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, though some eyewitnesses said it started from the upper floors of the building.

An official from Mandalay central fire brigade, speaking at 6pm yesterday, said the fire had continued for the whole day but began to die down in the afternoon leaving only embers.

"We still don't know anything much yet, we're still investigating, but the fire has nearly died out," the official said.

"We still don't know how many casualties were caused by the fire, but we are calculating the cost of the damage caused."

But an eyewitness said the fire was still burning strongly at 7pm.

"The market has been destroyed, the firefighters are now trying to prevent the fire from spreading to the surrounding buildings," the witness said.

"They couldn't really do anything to save the market building because they couldn't gain access to it."

A small fire was reported at the market building again this afternoon, possibly from the remnants of yesterday's blaze, an onlooker said.

"We thought the fire had been completely extinguished, but it broke out again this afternoon," he said.

"But it only lasted for around an hour."

The eyewitness yesterday said that the Skywalk shopping mall, located in the centre of the building, had been completely destroyed by the fire.

"The cost of the damage could run into millions of kyats , the Skywalk mall alone is worth millions," he said.

"I've been there a couple of times but couldn't even think of buying anything from the mall as it's so expensive."

Shop owners and bystanders estimated the cost of the destruction at hundreds of millions of kyats.

Some eyewitnesses said people had been injured when they were crushed by the crowds fleeing the building and some firefighters were also said to be injured, but casualty figures are not yet confirmed.

Yadanabon market opened in 2000, and is the second largest market in Mandalay after Zay Cho market.

It is located in Mandalay town centre near the railway station, and houses the Skywalk shopping mall, MICT park and thousands of privately-owned shops, including many computer outlets and garment stores.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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