The fire broke out in the workshop in Fez's old city on Thursday evening, fire service officials told the official MAP news agency on Friday. The girls were aged 16 to 18, official sources told the media.

During the month of Ramadan, the five worked into the night, embroidering slippers and belts. "It appears that the workshop owner left them working there and locked the door," he said. There were no survivors, he added.

MAP said the fire was believed to have started when a bottle of gasoline caught fire. The flames spread to glue and other inflammable materials, the official said. 

Tourist destination

Fez is a popular tourist destination and has a large artisan sector. Despite initiatives by UNICEF and the Moroccan authorities, hundreds of rudimentary workshops employ young people and children, some as young as seven, often in dangerous conditions. 

Traditional slippers made in Fez are a well-known product on both the domestic and the tourist markets.