Fire at Bangladesh juice factory kills 52, many feared trapped
At least 52 people were killed, 20 injured and many more feared trapped after a massive fire raged through a juice-making factory in Bangladesh, officials said on Friday, the latest industrial fire accident in the country.
A fire that started at a food factory on Friday injured thirty (30) people, while the number of deaths is believed to be fifty-two (52) at the moment.
Hundreds of distraught relatives and other workers waited in the street anxiously while the fire raged inside.
Almost 24 hours after it erupted in Rupganj, an industrial town outside of Dhaka, the fire still raged at Hashem Food and Beverage factory.
Lax safety standards
Bangladesh's safety record has been tarnished by a long list of disasters in industrial complexes and apartment buildings, this disaster is the latest in the country's series of disasters.
Over 1,100 people were killed when the Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013. Since then, this country has pledged to reform itself. Yet critics claim safety standards are still lax when it comes to safety.
Dramatic rise in casualties
In a normal scenario, there would be more than 1,000 workers in the building, although many had left for the day when the fire started. However, overnight, the number of dead rose dramatically as firefighters found 49 more bodies on the third floor.
Anguish of the families
Debashish Bardhan, a spokesman for the Fire Service, says that the workers were stuck, unable to access the rooftop due to the padlocked staircase and as the lower floors were engulfed in flames they were unable to descend.
As people watched in the streets, charred victims were loaded into ambulances to be taken to morgues amid anguished screams and tears.
Some people clashed with police after blocking nearby roads while many were dispersed by police.
Number of casualties can get higher
Five and six floors were engulfed in smoke from the fire, and emergency services were battling to put it out. 25 people were rescued using ropes by firefighters from the roof of a factory that manufactured noodles, juices and candy.
According to a fire service spokesperson, a search and rescue operation will be conducted once the fire is under control after which casualties will be confirmed.
Cause of fire
The fire broke out because there were highly flammable chemicals and plastics stored inside the building, said fire chief Dinu Moni Sharma Sharma.
Mohammed Saiful, a factory worker who escaped, said dozens of people were inside when the fire started.
He said that both of the stairwell gates on the third floor were closed, and there might've been 48 people inside. "I don't know what happened to them," he said.
The factory also had small fires earlier
Some workers said that the factory had experienced small fires in the past and that the two stairways were the only way of escape.
Many of the waiting relatives said they feared the worst as clouds of black smoke billowed from the building.