At least 52 people have died in the fire at the factory of Hashem Foods Limited
The Unicef has expressed deep shock at the deaths of children, who lost their lives in the deadly fire at a food processing factory in Rupganj of Narayanganj on Thursday.
In a press release issued on Sunday, Unicef expressed deepest sympathies to the families of those who died, were injured, or remain unaccounted for.
With over 50 casualties reported, as many as 16 or more of these may be children, reads the statement.
As families continue to search for their missing children, the Unicef is working with the government to dispatch social workers to support children and families in Rupganj.
This tragic incident brings to light yet again that despite laws that should protect them, many children in Bangladesh are not only working, but they are working in hazardous conditions, says the release.
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According to the Bangladesh Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019, over four million children are working, and more than three million of these children are trapped in the worst forms of child labour that involve hazardous working conditions.
The horrific deaths and suffering, which could have been avoided, are a stark reminder that all stakeholders must act now to protect children and must enforce compliance with the Children Act 2013, as well as child labour and occupational safety laws, read the statement.
On Thursday, at least 49 workers died when a massive fire engulfed the factory that produces popular Shezan juice and other products of Hashem Foods Limited, a sister concern of Sajeeb Group. Three others died after jumping off the six-storey building, taking the death toll to 52.
Locals, workers and relatives of missing workers said that the factory had employed children and women belonging to poor families, many of whom were brought to the city from different villages.
Fire Service chief Brig Gen Sajjad Hossain said that inflammable 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.
Several relatives of missing workers claim the vast majority of the deaths in the fire could have been avoided if the door to a stairway of the factory had been unlocked.
According to locals, the supervisor of the factory used to lock the factory from outside so that child labourers could not behave mischievously during the working hours. That is why many of them were left locked inside when the fire broke out.