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PICS: Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in B'desh

Last updated on: November 25, 2012 15:54 IST

PICS: Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in B'desh

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Anisur Rahman in Dhaka

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.

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Image: A firefighter tries to control a fire at a garment factory in Savar, outskirts of Dhaka
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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PICS: Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in B'desh

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He said the toll could rise. 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.

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Image: A firefighter tries to control a fire at a garment factory in Savar, outskirts of Dhaka
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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PICS: Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in B'desh

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The president asked the concerned authorities to put in their highest efforts for ensuring proper treatment of the injured people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also voiced shock at the loss of so many lives and asked authorities to conduct thorough search-and-rescue operations.

About the garment factory blaze, witnesses said it was the worst fire tragedy in recent years. Fire service officials earlier said several workers of the factory were trapped inside and took shelter on the rooftop of the structure awaiting rescuers.

Authorities had mobilised several fire fighting units to douse the blaze. Television footage showed army troops and fire service rescuers bringing out bodies one after another from the debris as hundreds of people, including relatives of the victims, waited outside.

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Image: Firefighters try to control a fire in a garment factory in Savar, outskirts of Dhaka
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
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PICS: Factory fire, flyover collapse kill 137 in B'desh

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General Officer Commanding of nearby Savar Cantonment Maj Gen Syed Hassan Suhrawardy, who was overseeing the rescue campaign, said the bodies would be kept at a nearby primary school premises from where relatives could take them for burial.

Many workers jumped from the factory's upper floors to escape the flames before firefighters arrived to put the blaze out. The cause was not immediately known but such fires are usually blamed on short circuits.

Authorities called out extra police force at the scene as angry relatives and fellow workers damaged a fire engine, protesting the delay in dousing the blaze. According to media reports, Tazrin Fashion made clothes for the Dutch chain C&A and the Hong Kong supplier Li & Fung.


Image: A firefighter inspects a garment factory after a fire in Savar
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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