Monday 19 March 2018

Fire factory exit door 'was locked'

Bangladeshi firefighters and volunteers work to douse a fire at a clothing factory in Dhaka (AP)
Bangladeshi firefighters and volunteers work to douse a fire at a clothing factory in Dhaka (AP)

The sole emergency exit was locked at a Bangladesh clothes factory where a fire killed seven women, it has been claimed.

Government official Jahangir Kabir Nanak said an investigation has been ordered into the cause of the fire at the Smart Export Garment factory amid allegations that the emergency exit was locked.

The fire happened just two months after a blaze killed 112 workers in another factory, raising questions about safety in Bangladesh's textile industry, which exports to leading Western retailers. The gates of that factory were locked.

Altaf Hossain, the father of a worker killed in the latest fire, has filed a police case against three directors of the factory, accusing them of negligence involving the fire, Dhaka Metropolitan Police sub-inspector Shamsul Hoque said. He said police had begun an investigation.

Doctors said most of the victims died from asphyxiation.

"When I tried to escape through the emergency exit I found the gate locked," factory worker Raushan Ara told Dhaka's Prothom Alo newspaper.

The newspaper said at least 50 people were injured in a stampede triggered by the fire, six of whom were taken to hospital. Some of the injured jumped out of the windows of the two-story factory, said survivors.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Monzurul Kabir said the bodies of seven women were recovered from the top floor. He said the factory was making pants and shirts, but it was not immediately known if they were produced for any international companies.

About 250 workers were working at the time of the blaze.

Fires have caused more than 600 deaths of textile workers in Bangladesh since 2005, according to the advocacy group International Labour Rights Forum.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section