Death toll in Bangladesh factory fire reaches 23, more than 24 injured
- Officials suspect boiler explosion as the cause
- Toll could rise, as authorities cannot confirm numbers inside
- Latest disaster in series of safety accidents in the country
DHAKA: A fire on Saturday at a food and cigarette packaging factory in Bangladesh killed at least 23 people and injured more than two dozen, emergency and government officials said, with fears the toll could rise.
The cause of the fire in the Tongi industrial zone about 20 km (12 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, was not immediately known, but officials said a boiler explosion probably triggered the blaze, around 8 am, as workers prepared to swap shifts.
"We cannot confirm if people are inside, but our priority is to rescue them if there is anyone," Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman, a fire official at the site, told Reuters by telephone, adding that the blaze was now under control.
"There were about 100 people inside when the fire broke out," Mohammad Nayan, a worker assisting with rescue efforts, told reporters.
The incident is the latest in a series of industrial accidents in the South Asian country that is one of the world's top garment exporters.
In 2013, the collapse of Rana Plaza, a building outside Dhaka, killed 1,135 workers mainly employed in the garment industry.