52 deaths reported so far
The massive fire at a food processing factory in Rupganj, Narayanganj, which has killed at least 52 people, has been brought under control.
Firefighters were able to subdue the blaze at the building of Hashem Food Ltd, a concern of Sajeeb Group, after 29 hours of frantic efforts around 10pm on Friday, confirmed district Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director Abdullah Al Arefin.
“Our people are still working. However, we haven’t found any more bodies yet. I hope we will be able to wrap up by today,” he told Dhaka Tribune on Saturday morning.
Three deaths were reported in the immediate aftermath of the fire on Thursday at the six-storey building in the Kornogop area of Bhulta, Rupganj.
More than 50 other workers were injured after jumping off the building as the massive fire broke out and spread everywhere within minutes.
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Forty-nine bodies were later recovered from the building's fourth floor where most of the workers had taken shelter, firefighters said.
Of the injured, 25 are currently undergoing treatment at US-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Narayanganj and at least 10 people at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
However, many workers -- including children -- were still missing even after 24 hours of the blaze.
Among the workers, a significant number of children were employed in the factory.
Dhaka Tribune correspondents from the spot and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) reported that the families of the missing children were seen anxiously searching for their loved ones throughout the overnight operation and the day after.
Fire Service chief Brig Gen Sajjad Hossain said: “Flammable materials were stored on each floor of the building, which was why the fire spread rapidly from the ground floor to the whole building and took so long to douse it.”
Survivors and relatives of victims have alleged that the front gate, the only way to enter and leave the factory premises, had been locked after the fire broke out.
When most of the workers took refuge on the fourth floor, the factory officials also reportedly locked the gate of the floor.
If the gates had not been locked, the workers could have gone up as the fire broke out downstairs and could have been rescued later, according to Fire Service Deputy Director Debashish Bardhan.
According to Fire Service officials, the factory had no proper fire safety measures. The 35,000-square feet building was supposed to have four-five stairways for emergency exit but there were only two.