The owner of a Bangladeshi packaging plant where more than 30 people were killed in a devastating fire has apparently gone into hiding after he was sued over the incident, police said on Saturday.

Officer Feroz Talukder said his team of investigators could not find Syed Mokbul Hussain, chairman of Tampaco Foils Limited and a former lawmaker in the national parliament, at his home.

“His mobile phone has been switched off ever since the September 10 fire at the factory,” the officer told dpa by phone.

Hussain, his wife Parvin Hussain and six other managers are being sued by the relative of one of the victims, who has accused them of culpable homicide.

Talukder said the death toll in the accident had risen to 34, with six victims still unidentified.

Another 34 people were undergoing medical care at different hospitals in Dhaka.  

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

A boiler explosion was initially blamed for the fire but investigators are also examining whether a gas leak caused it.

“We are still waiting for the reports from the investigators to know the reason behind the accident,” said SM Alam, chief administrator of Gazipur district, who is supervising the ongoing rescue operation.

He said the owner had brought in 20 tonnes of highly inflammable chemicals only two days before the fire. “We are not sure whether the chemicals were stored with proper caution,” he added.

Around 45 out of a total of 300 employees had been working inside the factory at the time of explosion at about 6am, when workers were nearing the end of the overnight shift, said the administrator.

Passersby were also among the victims, he added.

The search operation is expected to be concluded in a week's time, said Alam.

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

Related stories

Bangladeshi factory owner sued after fire kills more than 30

Boiler explosion kills 23 at Bangladeshi factory

Death toll in Bangladesh factory fire rises to 29

13 killed in Indian factory fire

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.