Firefighters try to douse flames, following a boiler explosion in a factory in Tongi, Bangladesh, 11 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/STR

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.

More on this story

Bangladeshi factory owner sued after fire kills more than 30

The owner of a Bangladeshi packaging plant where more than 30 people were killed in a devastating fire is being sued by relatives of the victims, police said on Monday.

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