DHAKA, the capital of Bangladesh — An industrial building outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, caught fire on Thursday evening, killing at least 51 people, the latest tragedy in a country plagued by a history of hazardous working conditions.
As firefighters continue to comb through the debris, the death toll could rise, according to the authorities. The blaze raged for nearly 24 hours before being put out on Friday afternoon in a seven-story building that houses at least three factories that produce fruit drinks, packing materials, and plastic products.
Officials say two people were killed when they jumped from a burning building in Narayanganj, a suburb of Dhaka about 10 miles away. A total of 49 bodies have been found by rescue workers, and at least 25 people have been rescued, many of them injured.
Dinmoni Sharma, the deputy director of the Dhaka fire department, said, “We have worked so hard to control the fire.” For now, a large number of people remain unaccounted for and we fear that the number will rise.” We haven’t given up hope of getting them back.”
Relatives of the factory workers had filed numerous missing-person reports, some of whom had gathered in front of the building, he said.
What the building’s owner or operator was, along with its working conditions were unknown at first. This is what the district magistrate said: an investigation is underway to find out what caused the fire. Officials believe the fire started in a storage area on the ground floor.
The Bangladeshi garment industry, which accounts for about 80% of the country’s exports, has been plagued by deadly fires.
In November of last year, a massive fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory resulted in the deaths of 112 workers. In April of the following year, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing 1,134 people and causing Bangladesh’s worst disaster for the garment industry.
Working conditions in garment factories have remained largely unchanged despite public outrage following the tragedies. According to the Solidarity Center, a workers’ rights organisation, the country’s garment industry was responsible for more than 150 fires and other safety incidents between 2012 and 2019.
Over 1,300 people died and over 3,800 were injured as a result of these incidents.
Emily Schmall and Saif Hasnat reported from New Delhi and Dhaka, respectively.