Financial News

  • 10 May 2013, 2:58

Bangladesh: Eight Killed In Factory Fire

A fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh has killed eight people, as the death toll from the building collapse in the capital Dhaka passed 900.

The blaze on Wednesday night engulfed the lower floors of the 11-storey Tung Hai Sweater Ltd factory, also in Dhaka, said Mamun Mahmud, deputy director of the fire service.

The company supplies its products to firms around the world, including Primark, Peacocks and New Look in the UK.

The blaze, in which a ruling party politician and a top manufacturing official died, was fed by huge piles of acrylic products used to make jumpers and produced immense amounts of smoke, Mr Mahmud said.

The victims died of suffocation as they ran down the stairs, he added. "Apparently they tried to flee the building through the stairwell in fear that the fire had engulfed the whole building."

Had they stayed on the upper floors they would probably have survived the slow spreading fire, Mr Mahmud said.

"We found the roof open, but we did not find there anybody after the fire broke out. We recovered all of them on the stairwell on the ninth floor."

The fire comes two weeks after the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza building, home to five garment factories, in which at least 930 people are now known to have died.

The disaster has renewed concerns about the often deadly working conditions in Bangladesh's $20bn (12.8bn) garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the world.

The identities of the victims of Wednesday's fire illustrate the close ties between the industry and top Bangladeshi officials.

The dead included the factory's managing director, Mahbubur Rahman, who was also on the board of directors of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

A senior police official and another man who was head of a local branch of the ruling party's youth league were also killed.

A local TV company reported that Mr Rahman had been planning to stand as an MP next year and had been meeting friends to discuss his future when the fire broke out.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which began soon after the factory workers went home for the day and took three hours to bring under control.