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01 Jan 2002 00:00
At least 37 people died and 11 more are in critical condition following a fire in a Nigerian rubber goods factory, the Nigerian Red Cross said on Wednesday.
The fresh toll was announced after rescuers entered the third day of an operation to recover the corpses of workers who were trapped in the Lagos plant when it caught fire early on Monday.
Red Cross representative Patrick Bawa said his agency had found 37 corpses by nightfall on Tuesday and continued to search on Wednesday.
More bodies are expected to be found. Nigerian press reports have said that as many as 120 people may have died in the blaze at the Malaysian-owned firm, West African Rubber Products, in the eastern Ikorodu suburb of Lagos.
Police said on Tuesday they had recovered six bodies.
It is not clear whether these are in addition to those reported by the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has transported 11 of the factory’s workers to hospital with serious burns.
Workers and trade unions claim that the death toll was high because an expatriate foreman had left his post, leaving a door to the affected building locked and trapping staff inside the plant when the fire broke out.
The plant’s manager, Mun Lai, denies this. - Sapa-AFP
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