dhaka.jpg
Photograph: Google maps

Rescuers have recovered four more bodies from the rubble of a packaging plant set alight by an explosion near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, bringing the death toll to 29, officials said on Sunday.

Firefighters pulled the bodies from the rubble 36 hours after rescue efforts in parts of the burned Tampaco Foils factory began, local government official SM Alam said.

The rescuers have been trying to extinguish the fire in other parts of the factory to allow for a total search, Alam added.

Members of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, police and a few volunteers have joined the search operation.

The four-storey factory building, located 20 kilometers north of the capital, collapsed hours after the fire broke out early Saturday.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the explosion. Officials initially blamed a faulty boiler but investigators are also looking into the possibility of a gas leakage.

More than 50 others have been undergoing treatment at different hospitals following the accident, police officer Bachhu Mia said earlier Sunday.

“The blaze is under control, but could not be doused fully to begin a search inside the wreckage,” Enayet Hossain, an officer at Dhaka's Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters, told dpa by phone.

Witnesses said the volunteers tried several times to enter the partially collapsed building in search of missing workers, but were forced back by thick-black smokes and flames.

The district administration listed nine factory workers as still missing after the accident, Abul Hashem, a magistrate of Gazipur district, told reporters.

The Tampaco Foils factory produces packaging for tobacco and other consumer products, with British American Tobacco and food giant Nestle among its clients.

Nestle said Sunday it was "shocked and saddened" by the deaths and injuries in the fire.

The Swiss firm said its thoughts were with those affected by the tragedy.

Fatalities in Bangladeshi factories - which mostly produce clothing, packaging and textiles - are common due to a lax implementation of regulations.

A fire at Tazreen Fashion factory in late 2012 killed at least 112 workers.

More than 1,100 people were killed and 2,500 injured after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building which housed five garment factories in 2013.

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