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Bangladesh’s juice factory fire kills 52 people

The fire started Thursday afternoon on the ground floor of a six-story factory in Hashem Foods Ltd. in Rupganj, east of the capital Dhaka, said Debashis Bardhan, deputy director of the fire and civil defense.

The presence of chemicals and flammable substances such as polythene and clarified butter contributed to the fire at the factory and made it more difficult to bring them under control, the Bangladeshi State Sangbad Sangstha News Agency reported.

Some workers jumped off the roof to escape the fire.
Firefighters are working to put out the fire at the factory on Friday.

Three people died as they jumped off the roof on Thursday after receiving burns from the fire, BSS reported, citing Abdul Al Arifin, Narayanganj district deputy director of fire and civil defense. Almost none of the bodies recovered on Friday could be recognized, BSS reported, citing fire and Civil Defense Director Lieutenant Colonel Zillur Rahman.

Al Arifin said that each of the floors of the building was approx. 3,250 square feet, but were only accessible via two stairs, meaning many workers could not get out as the fire spread to the stairs while one of the doors leading from stairs to the roof was locked, Reuters reported.

Twenty-five people were rescued from the building, officials said. At least 50 people, mostly factory workers and employees, were injured in the fire.

The fire was brought under control Friday afternoon, BSS reported, and relatives of missing workers staged demonstrations outside and around the factory premises.

Firefighters recover the remains of a victim.

The Narayanganj district administration has formed a five-man probe committee to investigate the incident, Reuters reported, citing Al Arifin.

In 2013, more than 1,000 people were killed when an entire clothing factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital, bringing safety standards for the country’s factory workers – a high proportion of whom work in the clothing industry – into the spotlight.
Nearly 200 brands and more than 1,600 factories signed an agreement that promotes safe working environments for workers after the incident.

However, flames and accidents can still be common in South Asian factories, many of which operate illegally and without adequate fire and building safety standards.

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