Dhaka, Bangladesh – At least 49 people have died in a fire that broke out at a food and drink factory outside the nation’s capital, firefighters and local television stations said on Friday.
A fire department official, Russel Shikder, confirmed that the blaze started Thursday night at the five-story Hashem Food and Beverage Ltd. factory. in Rupganj, just outside Dhaka.
Debasish Bardhan, deputy director of fire and civil defense, said 49 bodies have been recovered inside the plant and rescue operations are continuing. He said the top two floors of the factory had yet to be searched.
The factory’s main exit door, which processes juices, soft drinks and other food items, was locked from the inside, he said.
Details on the cause of the fire, the number of people inside the factory and the number of people missing were not immediately available.
Bangladesh has a history of deadly factory fires. They are often attributed to the security breaches that still plague the South Asian country despite its rapid economic growth.
Continued corruption and lax law enforcement have claimed many lives over the years, and major Western brands, which employ tens of thousands of low-paid workers in Bangladesh, have come under heavy pressure to improve conditions. factory after fires and other disasters killed hundreds. .
In February 2019, a fire raged through a 400-year-old area full of apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka and killed at least 67 people. Another fire in Old Dhaka at a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010.
Authorities imposed stricter safety rules after more than 1,100 people died in a garment factory complex near Dhaka collapsed in 2013.
The International Labor Organization said in a 2017 report that Bangladesh’s regulatory framework and inspections “had not been able to keep up with the development of the industry.”