AT LEAST 50 people have died after a blaze broke out at a food and drink factory in Bangladesh – with the victims understood to mostly be children.
The fire began on Thursday night at the Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Rupgani, 15 miles outside of the capital Dhaka.
There have been 52 bodies recovered from the five-story building, with officials stating that some workers were forced to jump from the upper floors to escape the flames.
A further 30 people have been injured in the blaze, which started ont he ground floor, and are currently being treated at a local hospital.
Deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defense, Debasish Bardhan said 49 bodies have been recovered so far from inside the factory and rescue operations continued.
Flames rose from the top floors of the building, and there have been claims that a key exit gate of the factory was locked from the inside.
Mustain Billah, the administrator for the Narayanganj district told Reuters: “Three people died from jumping off the building to escape the fire and 49 charred bodies have been recovered.”
Police official Abdullah Al Mamun said that a legal probe had been launched, with three police teams dispatched to investigate – insisting that legal action would be taken against those responsible for the fire.
Ekattor TV said that most of the people who died in the fire were children, and firefighters were still trying to extinguish it 18 hours after it broke out.
Devastated family members of the workers have been protesting outside the factory over the claims that it was locked from the inside, and demanding searches for their loved ones.
The factory, which processes juices and soft drinks, employs almost 7,000 workers and a large number of them are children.
The circumstances surrounding the blaze and how it started are currently unknown, with the number of people inside the factory at the time also not available.
It is the latest deadly blaze at a factory in Bangladesh which has killed hundreds of people, with some leading to protests against workplace conditions.
At least 117 people were killed in November 2012 after a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka went up in flames.
The deadlies factory fire in the nation's history was a blaze at the Tazreen Fashion factory, which saw 200 people injured.
The fire sparked a workers protest, which was calling for better workplace safety and resulted in 200 factories being closed during the demonstrations.
A third blaze a year later at the Mirpur textile factory, whose clients included Gap, Next and H&M, killed seven people and was thought to have started by a faulty knitting machine.
In Bangladesh the textiles industry has been criticised in the past for its poor working conditions, low pay and low levels of health and safety.
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