By Jakir Hossain from Dhaka, July 9 2021 :
Fire-fighters have recovered at least 49 bodies from the burning Shezan Juice Factory in Bangladesh’s Narayanganj since Friday morning, taking the death toll to 53. The factory, which manufactures various juice, soft drinks and food items, caught fire around 5:30 pm on Thursday evening.
As many as 18 fire-fighting units from Narayanganj and Dhaka are at the scene to douse the flames, which erupted Thursday afternoon. Many others are feared to be dead as the rescue operation is underway, said Fire Service Deputy Director Debashish Vardhan.
Three deaths were reported in the immediate aftermath of the fire on Thursday at the six-storey factory building of Hashem Foods Limited, a sister concern of Sajeeb Group, at the Kornogop area of the district’s Rupganj Upazila.
Although the blaze was almost under control early Friday, the flames erupted once again on the fifth and sixth floors in the morning. The fire service said it was difficult to bring it under control due to plastic and chemical materials stored in that part of the building.
The severe heat from the blaze has caused cracks in a part of the building. The windows, including the aluminum structures, are falling apart, with plumes of black smoke billowing out of the factory.
The factory, which manufactures various juice, soft drinks and food items, caught fire around 5:30 pm on Thursday. Firefighters said many people jumped off the building in a bid to save themselves from the blaze. Three of them succumbed to their injuries late on Thursday.
Mina Akter, 40, and Swapna Rani, 38, died on the way to a local hospital, according to Kanchan Fire Service Station Officer Shah Alam. Another worker, Musralin, 24, died while undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Thursday night, said Inspector Bachchu Mia of the hospital’s police outpost.
Mursalin was taken to the hospital along with 11-13 others in the evening. A dozen others were admitted at US-Bangla Medical College and Hospital in Narayanganj’s Rupganj upazila. All of them were injured as they jumped off the second floor and third floor of the building, according to emergency responders.
Relatives of missing workers gathered outside the factory late on Thursday. The local administration has drawn up a list of 44 missing workers based on statements from relatives until 1 pm on Friday, said Bhulta police outpost Sub Inspector Md Mintu.
Survivors and relatives have alleged the front gate, which is the only way to enter and leave the factory premises, had remained locked since the fire broke out. According to them, the factory building had no proper fire safety measures.
Enraged by the delay in rescuing the people trapped inside the building, they have been protesting in front of the factory building and occupying Dhaka-Sylhet Highway since around 10 pm on Thursday. Tempers began to flare among them on Friday morning, when they vandalized vehicles followed by a clash with the police, when tear gas shells were fired to disperse them.
Deputy Director of Narayanganj District Fire Service Abdullah Al Arefin said it will take some time to fully control the fire. Until the fire is doused, it is not possible to say exactly how much damage has occurred and the cause of the fire, he added. A five-member probe committee has been formed by the district administration to look into this incident.