Dhaka garment factory fire kills 124, toll may rise

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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 today.

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, Saturday 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 said, adding that most of the bodies were found severely charred. He said the toll could rise. The cause was not immediately known

In another incident, an under-construction flyover collapsed in Chittagong, leaving 13 people dead and over 50 injured. At around 8.00 pm Saturday 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 deep shock and sorrow at loss of lives in the two incidents. He conveyed his sympathies to the kin of the victims. Rahman asked the concerned authorities to put in their highest efforts for ensuring proper treatment of the injured people.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also asked authorities to conduct thorough search-and-rescue operations.

Maj Gen Syed Hassan Suhrawardy, who is supervising the rescue operations, said the bodies would be kept in the premises of a nearby primary school for the relatives to take them for burial.

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