At least 22 people were killed in a stampede during a charity handout event at a tobacco factory in Bangladesh on Friday as hundreds of people flocked to the area for free clothing. The factory was identified as Nurani Jorda in Mymensingh town, 70 miles from the capital Dhaka, by local news networks, BBC reported.
At least 30 people hurt in the stampede were rushed to a nearby hospital, local police officer Kamrul Islam said, according to the Associated Press. BBC reported that pictures showed blood-spattered slippers at the factory's gate.
Police officials, who expect the death toll to rise, said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), that over 1,500 people had gathered at the factory before dawn and tried to enter the premises through a small gate.
There are conflicting reports about the number of people who died in the stampede. Moinul Haque, Mymensingh police chief, said, according to AFP, that at least 23 people were killed and that “most of the dead are poor and emaciated women."
So far, seven people have been reportedly arrested, including the factory’s owner, for not ensuring public safety.
"My wife had gone there to collect some clothes for herself and for our children," Mohammad Robiul, a rickshaw-puller, told a local news network, according to AFP. "I don't know what will happen to my kids."
According to a report by Prothom Alo, a local newspaper, the main gate of the factory collapsed after the crowd tried to push through it. The report added that 14 people died on the spot.
The incident comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started on June 19. During this period, rich Bangladeshis usually participate in a ritual of distributing clothes. However, these events have led to several stampedes over the years. In 2002, a stampede at a garment factory in the northern city of Tangail killed 40 people, AFP reported.