At least five workers were killed and two others injured when a devastating fire broke out at a footwear factory at Swarighat in Old Dhaka early Friday.
Besides, a kitchen market adjacent to the factory was fully gutted by the fire. However, no casualties were reported at the market.
Rashed Bin Khalid, an officer at the Fire Service and Civil Defence control room, said the fire broke out at ‘Rumana Rubber Industries’ in the Kamalbagh neighbourhood of Swarighat around 1:15am. Being informed of the incident, eight firefighting units rushed to the spot but the fire had already spread to the market, he said, adding that firefighters finally brought the fire under control around 3:00am after two-hour efforts.
The bodies of the five workers were recovered from the factory as the firefighters conducted a search operation after dousing the fire.
The bodies were later sent to Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital, said officer-in-charge of Chawkbazar Police Station Md Abdul Qaiyum.
Police did not disclose the details of the victims, but family members and loved ones of the workers rushed to the morgue in the morning fearing the worst and identified them.
Two other workers sustained injuries as they jumped off the building.
According to locals, Burmese and sponge shoes were being made at the factory which had many drums filled with rubber, plastics and chemicals.
It was because of these combustible substances that the fire took a terrible turn, the firefighters said.
Md Rahim, who owns a meat shop at adjacent market ‘Madina Bazar’, which was destroyed, said he was in the neighbourhood when the fire broke out.
“I heard a big bang and then suddenly the whole area was illuminated. Then I ran away from the shop in fear and came to the street. Later, I saw the factory next to the market was burning,” he said.
Deputy Assistant Director of Fire Service Hafizur Rahman said they were yet to identify the reasons behind the fire.
“The fire created huge smoke leading to the suffocation of the workers. The factory authorities kept some drums filled with chemicals abruptly on the ground floor which made it difficult to douse the fire,” he said.