Keraniganj factory fire: ‘Never witnessed such deadly burn injuries in 40 years’

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‘Many fire incidents are reported in the country, but I have never seen any such deadly injuries in the last 40 years of my experience’

The burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) is almost always full even when there are no fire incidents, but a top doctor dealing with burn injuries said the injuries of patients following the fire at the plastic factory in Keraniganj is the deadliest.

“Many fire incidents are reported in the country, but I have never seen any such deadly injuries in the last 40 years of my experience,” said Chief National Coordinator for Plastic Surgery and All Burn Projects Dr Samanta Lal Sen at the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.

He was briefing reporters yesterday on the situation of the Keraniganj plastic factory fire victims.

“A patient had died, but his wife failed to recognize him. His face was distorted to such an extent that she was only able to identify her husband after noticing the cut on his hand,” he said.

A total of 31 people with burn injuries were taken to the institute while one of them died on the spot. Twelve others also died while undergoing treatment taking the death toll to total 13 people.

Currently, 18 burn patients are undergoing treatment at the institute. Among them, 10 are under life support at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the institute.

“None of their [burn victims] faces can be recognized while their respiratory tracts are badly burnt. All of them have burn injuries ranging from 60% to 100% in their bodies,” said Dr Samanta.

“It will be tough to recover,” he added.

According to the doctor, one Abdur Razzak, whose body has been burnt completely, is at high risk of his condition worsening any given moment.

“It is usually not possible to save patients with cent percent burn injuries anywhere in the world. All we can do is try,” he said.

However, eight of the patients, now admitted at burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital are comparatively in better position from others with 15% to 20% injuries.

2 more bodies handed over

Two more bodies of victims who died in the deadly fire in plastic factory were handed over to their families.

They are – Omar faruk, 36, of Akkelpur upazila of Joypurhat and Mehedi Hasan, 20, of Keraniganj’s Suvadda area.

The Dhaka District Administration handed over the body after completing the autopsies.

According to the hospital sources, 12 bodies have been handed over to their relatives so far. One body is in the morgue, whose DNA samples will be collected. After confirming the identity, the body will be handed over to the relatives.

Case filed against owner

A case has been filed against factory owner Nazrul Islam along with some unnamed accused with South Keraniganj police station.

The owner however has gone into hiding since the incident.

South Keraniganj police OC Shah Zaman said a murder case was filed on Thursday evening in connection with the blaze.

Jahangir, brother of a worker, Alam, killed in the accident, lodged the case.

“Nazrul is on the run. We are trying to arrest him,” said the OC.

Full of negligence

Locals and families of victims said there is a single gate for entry and exit at the factory.

There was no emergency exits making risks for the workers. It had six large rooms inside, but everyone there had to use that one single gate for entry and exit.

Locals alleged that different government regulatory organizations aided factory owner Nazrul Islam in running the factory by taking bribes because two fires took place at the factory earlier, but nothing changed.

Factory sealed

The Keraniganj upazila administration has sealed the Prime Pet and Plastic Industry at Chunkutia area of Keraniganj, where the massive fire broke out on Wednesday.

A warehouse-cum-factory placed right beside the said plastic factory that witnessed the fire was also sealed by Upazila Executive Officer (UNO) Amit Debnath yesterday.

“Not only the plastic factory, we have also sealed five other factories in different areas in Keraniganj upazila as the authorities failed to show valid documents,” Amit Debnath told reporters at Keraniganj.

“If the factory authorities can show documents, then, we will take further decision in this regard,” he said.

Hunt for non-compliant factories are on

Abu Saleh Mohammed Ferdous Khan, the deputy commissioner of Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Dhaka, has visited the Prime Pet and Plastic Industry in Keraniganj where a devastating fire left 13 workers dead and 19 others injured.

Factories like this are not supposed to be located in residential areas, he said.

“To prevent any such accident, we are looking for such non-compliance factory. If we find any, we will take legal action as per law,” said Khan.

He urged the concerned authorities to assess the factories before providing utility connections.