Death toll in Bangladesh textile mill fire rises to 54

Rescuers recovered 48 more bodies from the charred debris of a textile mill in southeastern Bangladesh Friday, raising the death toll from the devastating fire to 54, officials said.

The fire that broke out late Thursday at the Bangladeshi-owned KTS Textile Mill near the port city of Chittagong also injured more than 150 workers, 82 of whom were hospitalized, doctors at Chittagong Medical College Hospital said.

About 1,000 workers, many of them women, were inside when the fire broke out, said Abu Tayeb, an official of a textile manufacturers' and exporters' association. Most managed to leave the building on their own, he said.

Police officer Anwarul Azim said rescuers, including villagers and soldiers, were sifting through the rubble searching for survivors or bodies among the debris of the three-story building at an industrial park near Chittagong, about 215 kilometers (135 miles) southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

Most of the victims were women who burned to death or suffocated from smoke inhalation, a doctor at the medical college said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to talk to the media. Six badly burnt bodies were found overnight Thursday.

The factory had only one main exit, and workers had to scramble through a lone narrow stairway to escape, while others jumped from windows, said fire official Rashidul Islam, quoting survivors, reports the AP.

I.L.