At least 10 people died and dozen others were injured after a boiler exploded at a garment factory in Bangladesh, the authorities said on Tuesday. This is the latest fire accident that hit the world's biggest garment producers.
The mishap took place late on Monday at a plant owned by Multifabs Limited, a Bangladeshi company on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka. Dozens of labourers were present on site at the facility, when a blast tore through the six-storey building, causing its walls and a roof to collapse.
"It is a terrible scene. Fire brigade officers have arrived and are doing rescue work. The factory's boiler exploded and the blast also affected other buildings near the factory," police officer Harunur Rashid told the AFP news agency.
"Eight people were killed and approximately 50 were injured. Six bodies were recovered at the spot and two more in the hospital. The casualties included passers-by who were walking outside the factory," Mohammad Akhteruzzaman, deputy assistant director of the fire service said.
According to the firm's website, it supplies knitted apparel to clients in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Spain, Netherlands and Britain, including to Littlewoods, one of Britain's oldest retail brands.
The company said the plant was functioning well and the boiler, procured from Germany, had just been serviced. The factory had been shut for 10 days for the Eid period at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and was being readied to resume operations from Tuesday.
"This was an accident. Everything was fine," Mahiuddin Faruqui, company chairman and managing director, told Reuters. "The boiler was running well. After servicing when workers were trying to restart it, it went off," he added. The authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.
Bangladesh has the biggest garment-making industry in the world after China. It employs almost 4 million people and generates 80 percent of its export earnings.
According to Faruqui, Multifabs started operating in 1992, and reached US$70 million in exports in 2016, supplying European brands such as fashion chain Lindex, which is part of Finnish retailer Stockmann and Aldi.