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N’ganj factory fire claims 52 lives

Many still missing; factory lacks fire safety measures

  • Special Correspondent
  • 10 July, 2021 12:00 AM
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N’ganj factory fire claims 52 lives
Worried relatives of those who are still missing in the devastating Narayanganj factory fire are waiting to hear their fate in front of the factory on Friday holding photographs of their loved ones. – SUN PHOTO

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The death toll from the devastating Narayanganj juice factory fire has risen to 52 with the recovery of 49 more bodies on Friday.

The identities of most of the ill-fated workers could not be known immediately as their bodies were charred beyond recognition, fire service sources said.

Firefighters recovered the 49 bodies from the six-storey building of Shezan juice factory in Rupganj upazila in the morning.

Earlier, three people, including two female workers, succumbed to their injuries on Thursday night after they jumped out of the fire-ravaged factory to save themselves.

They are Mina Akhter, 40, Swapna Rani, 38, and Musralin, 24.

Of them, the former duo died on the way to a local hospital while the latter at Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the capital, according to Kanchan Fire Service Station Officer Shah Alam.

A dozen others were admitted to US-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Rupganj.

Deputy Director (Operations and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defense Debashish Bardhan told reporters that the 49 bodies were recovered from the 3rd floor of the building.

He further said the bodies were charred beyond recognition and it will be hard to identify the victims for handover to their family members. DNA samplings may be needed to ascertain their identities. Firefighters brought the fire that razed the factory building twice under control on Friday afternoon.

As many as 18 firefighting units from Narayanganj and Dhaka joined the operation.

There was a huge amount of flammable polythene, ghee and other objects which made it difficult to bring the fire under control, Bardhan further said.

Earlier in the day, a list of 38 missing people was prepared by police, confirmed sub-inspector Mithun Lal Vaidya of Bhulta Police Outpost under Rupganj Police Station.

Before that, relatives claimed that five workers were missing. They are Ripon alias Yasin Mia, 20, Taslima, 18, Amena, 20, Umrita Begum, 25, and Firoza Begum, 40.

Ripon's mother Nazma Begum said he had been missing since Thursday noon after he left home for the factory.

He used to work on the 3rd floor of the factory. Relatives said most of the missing might have been trapped on the floor.

Many others are feared dead as the rescue operation was underway, said fire service sources.

Although the blaze was almost under control early Friday, the flame erupted once again on the 4th and 5th floors in the morning.

The fire service sources said it was difficult to bring it under control due to the plastic and chemical materials stored in that part of the building.

Extreme heat from the blaze caused cracks on a part of the building. Windows, including the aluminum structures, were falling apart with plumes of black smoke billowing out of the factory.

Survivors and relatives alleged that the front gate, which is the only way to enter and leave the factory premises, had remained locked since the fire broke out.

The fire service said gates of the 3rd floor and the roof of the building were locked, leading to higher casualties.

It also said the building constructed violating the Bangladesh National Building Code.

Besides, the factory building had no proper fire safety measures, they added.

Meanwhile, enraged by the delay in rescuing the people trapped inside the building, relatives and locals staged violent demonstrations and clashed with police in front of the factory building.

They also blocked nearby Dhaka-Sylhet highway from 10pm on Thursday, hampering the traffic.

Their tempers began to flare on Friday morning when they vandalised vehicles followed by a clash with police. Police fired teargas shells to disperse them.

Meanwhile, the district administration formed a five-member probe committee to look into the fire incident.

It also announced to provide Tk 25,000 and Tk 10,000 as compensation for the families of each deceased and each injured respectively.