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At least 15 dead, 70 injured, in Bangladesh factory fire

Around 100 people were working when flames tore through the building following an explosion

Published: Updated:

At least fifteen people have been killed and 70 injured, many critically, in a huge fire triggered by a boiler explosion at a Bangladeshi packaging factory, officials said Saturday.

“The death toll has risen to 15 and at least 70 people have been injured,” Parvez Mia, a doctor at the Tongi state-run hospital, told AFP. “Most of them had burn injuries. We sent the critically injured victims to the hospitals in Dhaka,” he said.

Around 100 people were working when flames tore through the building following an explosion in the boiler room at the four-storey factory in the industrial town of Tongi, just north of the capital Dhaka.

Police say they are concerned many workers may still be trapped inside the building. “The fire is still not under control,” police inspector Sirajul Islam told AFP. Chemicals may have been stored on the ground floor of the factory, helping to explain how the blaze that began at 6 am (0000 GMT) spread so fast, said Tahmidul Islam of Bangladesh’s industrial police unit.

“What we have heard is that there were chemical stored on the ground floor. As a result, the fire took no time to spread,” Islam told AFP, adding scores of fire officials were still battling to bring the blaze under control.

The factory produced and printed the plastic packaging for food items like potato chips and small household goods including mosquito coils. Fires and other accidents are common in the factories that make up the $27-billion garment industry in Bangladesh, the world's second-biggest apparel exporter after China.