Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 9 July: At least 55 workers were killed in a massive fire at Shezan Juice factory in Narayanganj, a neighbouring district of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
The fire broke out at the factory, a sister concern of Sajeeb group, at 5pm on Thursday afternoon trapping more than 50 workers inside the factory building.
Shajeeb Group MA Hashem told Our Correspondent, “Around 600/700 workers used to work in the factory.”
Deputy Director (operations and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defense, Debashish Bardhan said that the building was large which should have at least four wide staircases. But it had only two narrow staircases.
In addition, smooth movement inside the factory was hampered because various goods and raw materials were scattered here and there, he said.
As a result, a large number of workers were trapped inside the factory increasing the number of victims, he added.
Debashish Bardhan further said that “Many of them tried to break the windows. And If they could climb straight up to the roof, there could have been chances of survival.”
“49 bodies were recovered from the building and three died at different hospitals,” Fire Service said on Friday afternoon in its information board at the spot.
Twenty bodies have been sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue, fire service officials said earlier.
Immediately after the incident, two bodies were recovered from the building. Later, another worker, who jumped from the 3rd floor, succumbed to his injuries at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) around 11pm. Meanwhile many remained trapped inside the building
Ten of the injured were sent to the DMCH while 16 admitted to US Bangla Medical College and Hospital, Rupganj after the accident.
The bodies have been sent for DNA testing for identification and will be handed over to family members after their DNA is matched, said Senior Assistant Commissioner and Executive Magistrate Nurun Nabi.
MA Hashem said negligence of the workers might have caused the fire.
Some workers might have lit cigarettes and left them without putting it out properly which had triggered the flame, he suspected.
Those who are demonstrating in front of the factory are not the workers, all are outsiders, he claimed.
The ground floor of the building had many flammable substances which might have caused the high intensity of the fire, he added.
“I will try my best to remain beside my children (workers) as it was an accident”, he said, adding that “There were small numbers of workers as all units were not operating.
He also claimed that there were adequate numbers of fire extinguishers available at the factory.
Firefighters are still conducting their operation to douse sporadic pocket fires on a top floor of the juice factory.
18 teams of the fire service are working on the spot.
Meanwhile, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued two separate messages expressing deep grief over the accident. They prayed for the salvation of the victims’ departed souls.