IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Dozens feared dead after fire rips through Bangladesh food factory

Rescuers were trying to recover bodies from the building as distraught relatives waited outside for news.

At least 49 people were feared dead after a fire ripped through a food and beverage factory just outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, local TV stations reported on Friday.

At least 20 more were injured after the blaze broke out on Thursday night, Reuters reported. Firefighters were still battling the blaze on Friday afternoon. It was not known how many people remained trapped inside.

The government has ordered an investigation into the cause of the fire.

Distraught relatives wait outside the factory on the outskirts of Dhaka on Friday.Mohammad Ponir Hossain / Reuters

Rescuers were trying to recover bodies from the factory, which was locked from the inside when the fire began, The Associated Press reported, citing local TV station Ekattor TV. It added that 17 bodies have been recovered so far.

Distraught relatives have arrived at the scene, according to local media reports, and some clashed with police, the AP reported.

"It is not clear how many workers are trapped. We are gathering information," Mustain Billah, the Narayanganj district administrator, told Reuters from the scene.

Reuters reported that some of the injured people jumped off the second and third floor of the building.

Factories in Bangladesh have a history of deadly fires and other tragedies, often occurring due to a lack compliance with safety regulations. Corruption and lax rules have resulted in many deaths in the country, where such tragedies are considered common.

In February 2019, a blaze that ripped through a densely packed area in a 400-year-old district in Dhaka, killed at least 70 people. The area was cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses.

Another fire raced through a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka in 2012, killing at least 112 people who were trapped behind its locked gates.

Less than six months later, a garment factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.

Western brands which operate large factories in the nation and employ low-paid workers have increasingly come under pressure to improve factory conditions.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed.