DHAKA: At least eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured on Saturday when a fire broke out in a plastic factory in Bangladesh’s capital, emergency service officials said.
Police and fire officers believe the blaze started when gas cylinders exploded in the factory’s boiler room, then raced through the four-storey Nasim Plastic factory in minutes.
“We’ve so far recovered eight bodies,” local police chief Mohammad Jashimuddin told AFP, adding that the fire was brought under control in around two hours.
A fire official said the death toll could rise as workers were still trapped on the top floor, and several of those injured in the blaze were in critical condition.
“We’ve managed to control the fire but the search for survivors are still going on,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Factory worker Mohammad Khokon said 150-200 people usually work in the building, but the number on site was likely less than that because it was a weekend.
Dozens of friends and relatives of the missing workers crowded the factory site in Dhaka’s northern Mirpur suburb as fire fighters sifted through the charred remains of the building.
“I called my friend Belal after I saw the fire. His phone rang but he did not respond,” Mohammad Masud told AFP.
The fire also spread to a nearby four-storey garment factory, but the plant was closed for the day.
Fires are common in impoverished Bangladesh’s factories, which often have poor safety standards and lack fire-fighting tools.
In November 2012, at least 111 garment workers were killed when a blaze devastated a nine-storey garment factory outside Dhaka.
Many Western retailers, which buy billions of dollars of clothing from Bangladesh every year, have responded by launching a campaign to improve safety standards in the country’s thousands of garment factories.