Dozens killed as fire engulfs Bangladesh food factory

Dhaka: At least 52 people died in a huge blaze that engulfed a food and beverage factory outside Bangladesh’s capital, fire officials said Friday, in the latest industrial disaster to hit the South Asian nation.

The blaze began Thursday night at the five-storey Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Rupganj, just outside Dhaka, sending huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky.

Police initially announced that three people had died, but then discovered piles of bodies on Friday afternoon after the fire was extinguished.

Firefighters work to douse a fire at the food and beverage factory in Rupganj, outside Dhaka.Credit:AP

In addition, at least 26 workers were injured when they jumped from the upper floors as the fire engulfed the building, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported.

Debasish Bardhan, deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, said 52 bodies had been recovered from inside the factory and rescue operations were continuing. He said the top two floors had not yet been searched.

The main exit of the factory, which processes juice, soft drinks and other food items, was locked from the inside, he said.

Information about how many people were in the factory and how many were missing was not immediately available.

“For now, we only have these details. After searching the top floors we will be able to get a complete picture,” Bardhan said.

Earlier, family members clashed with police as they waited overnight without any word of the fate of their loved ones.

Before the blaze was put out, TV channels showed flames shooting out of the windows of the factory as hundreds of people lined up to watch the firefighters douse the fire.

The government ordered an investigation into the cause of the fire.

Bangladesh has a history of deadly factory fires. They are often attributed to safety lapses that still plague the South Asian country despite its rapid economic growth.

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