Twelve dead in Dhaka factory fire

Fire at the garments factoryFire safety at garment factories has often been questioned

At least 12 people have been killed and many more injured in a fire at a garment factory near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, police say.

Dhaka police spokesman Iqbal Bahar told the BBC that the casualty figure was likely to rise, although the fire was now under control.

Mr Bahar said that people trapped in the 11-storey building had to jump to safety, injuring themselves.

Police say that some people could still be holed up in the premises.

They say that so far they have reached the 10th floor of the building but have not yet been able to gain access to the 11th floor.

The fire broke out in a factory in the Ashulia industrial zone on the outskirts of Dhaka and smoke can still be clearly seen billowing around the complex.

The army has joined the rescue operation and fire engines from all over Dhaka have been deployed.

Mr Bahar said the search for survivors was continuing at the multi-storey building.

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories that export more than $10bn (£6bn) worth of products a year, mainly to the US and Europe.

The plant is owned by one of the country’s largest exporters, the Ha-Meem Group, which employs some 14,000 workers in the Ashulia industrial hub north of Dhaka.

“Some were injured in a stampede [to escape the building], some inhaled too much smoke, I saw at least six people jump from the roof,” police sub-inspector Mostofa Chowdhury told the AFP news agency.

Mr Chowdhury said that some workers had complained that emergency exits from the building were locked.

One witness who works at the factory told AFP that he had seen at least three people jump from the building.

“The fire originated at the canteen on the 11th floor and quickly spread. People could still be trapped because the factory often locked the exit gates,” he said.

Fires caused by short circuits and sub-standard electrical wiring are common in Bangladeshi garment factories, which often have inadequate fire escapes.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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