Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in Bangladesh

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 25, 2012 19:22 hrs

At least 137 people were killed and scores injured when a major fire engulfed a multi-storey garment factory on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and an under-construction flyover collapsed in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, officials said on Sunday. In one of the worst fire tragedies in the country, a blaze broke out at Tazrin Fashion factory in suburban Ashulia Savar, 30 km from Dhaka, last night and quickly spread to the ground and first floors of the six-storey building.

"We have so far retrieved 124 bodies (and) rescue campaign is still underway," Major Mahbub Hossain, a senior fire service official, told PTI over phone, adding that most of the bodies were found severely charred. He said the toll could rise.

Witnesses said the workers, mostly women, ran for safety as the fire engulfed the plant, but were unable to get through narrow exits. Bangladesh has around 4,500 garment factories and is the world's biggest exporter of clothing after China, with garments making up 80 per cent of its $24 billion annual exports.

In another incident, an under-construction flyover collapsed in Chittagong, leaving 13 people dead and over 50 injured. At around 8:00 pm last night, three concrete girders of the flyover fell on some people, mostly vegetable vendors, local media reported. A 5-member probe panel has been formed to investigate the incident. It was asked to submit its report within three days.

Mohd Abdul Mannan, Assistant Director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, was quoted as saying by The Daily Star that 13 people died in the accident. President Zillur Rahman expressed his deep shock and sorrow at loss of lives in the two tragic incidents. In a condolence message, he conveyed his deep sympathies to members of the bereaved families. The President asked the concerned authorities to put in their highest efforts for ensuring proper treatment of the injured people.

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