The Keraniganj plastic factory had only one gate for entry, exit; no emergency exit; death toll now 13

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MT Report : It did not at all look like a factory or a workplace; rather a large compound for confinement. The plastic factory in Keraniganj, on around 15,000sqft floor space, had a single gate for entry and exit and no emergency exits whatsoever. The factory had six large rooms inside but everyone there had to use that one gate to get out.  It was a perfect recipe for disaster.

“The air was always filled with the smell of chemicals and we had difficulties breathing in the area … ,” said Shamima, a resident of a nearby building. She said they had been planning to sell off their land and move because of the factory.  After the news of deaths of so many workers spread, locals yesterday staged demonstration in front of the factory demanding immediate ban on such factories in residential areas. They alleged that different government regulatory organisations aided factory owner Nazrul Islam run the factory taking bribes.   Prime Pet and Plastic Industries owner Nazrul Islam is on the run, police said. When the locals were chanting slogans, a group of ruling-party men led by Mirazur Rahman Suman, president of South Keraniganj unit of Swechchhasebak League, drove them away. Suman even threatened a youth who had defied his instruction to disband.

Suman told The Daily Muslimtimes  that they drove the demonstrators away to stop “BNP-Jamaat men making chaos”. “Factory owner Nazrul is a powerful man with links to local influential people. We cannot speak against him,” said a local youth.  Meanwhile, labour and employment ministry yesterday formed a four-member committee to investigate the fire. It said it would give Tk 1 lakh to the family of each deceased and Tk 50,000 to each injured worker.  Yesterday, doctors at DMCH conducted autopsies on 10 bodies and those were later handed over to their families.  The relatives of the dead had staged demonstration at the morgue protesting delays in conducting the autopsies. MD Jahangir, brother of deceased factory worker Alam, filed a murder case with Keraniganj South Police Station accusing factory owner Nazrul and 12 unnamed people last night in connection with the incident.

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