Dhaka: A fire engulfed a food and beverage factory outside Bangladesh's capital, killing at least 52 people, many of whom were trapped inside by an illegally locked door, fire officials said.
The blaze began Thursday night at the five-story Hashem Foods Ltd. factory in Rupganj, just outside Dhaka, sending huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky. Police initially gave a toll of three dead, but then discovered piles of bodies on Friday afternoon after the fire was extinguished.
So far 52 bodies have been recovered, but the top two floors of the factory have yet to be searched, said Debasish Bardhan, deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defense.
Fire Service's Director Operation, Lt Col Siddique Mohammed Zulfiqar Rahman told IANS that the fire rapidly spread because highly flammable chemicals and plastics had been stockpiled inside.
As per the words of the awaited relatives, about 30 people were injured and more than a hundred are missing.
Rahman said that many of the workers injured had leapt for their lives from the upper floors in the complex. It was not confirmed how many people were trapped inside.
"Once the fire is under control, we will conduct a search and rescue operation inside. Then we can confirm any further casualties,"he said.
Anwarul, a factory worker who escaped the fire, said that the fourth floor of the food processing factory was locked, and that is why most of the workers could not get out.
The 49 bodies were recovered from the fourth floor of the factory, officials added.
The relatives of the workers also said that the workers at the spot informed them, over mobile, about the fire and that they were helpless as the gate was locked by the authority.
Most of the workers of the factory were adolescent girls, including his two daughters, said Billal Hossain, father of Mitu and Ritu, who worked there.
While bodies of two women and a man who died after jumping out from the multi-storied building were recovered from outside, 49 burnt bodies were found inside and taken to the mortuary.
The duty officer of the mortuary of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) told IANS that the relatives of the deceased failed to identify the dead bodies, and only DNA tests can prove their identity.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep shock and sorrow over the tragedy.