A Bangladesh court has ordered the arrest of the owners of a garment factory and four others over a fire that killed 111 workers last year.

The arrest warrants were issued on Tuesday following a 13-month investigation into the deadly blaze at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka last November.

"Dhaka's senior judicial magistrate Wasim Sheikh issued the warrants of arrest against the two fugitive owners, Delwar Hossain and his wife Mahmuda Akter, and four other company officials for the Tazreen factory fire," prosecutor Anwarul Kabir told AFP news agency.

Police charged both Hossain and his wife, as well as security guards and managers, on December 22, but no arrest warrants were issued at that time.

New safety agreements

Last week police said it was possibly the first time a garment plant owner has been charged over a fire at one of the nation's 4,500 factories. 

"The owners and 11 others have been charged with arson, culpable homicide not amounting to murder and death by negligence," Kabir said, adding that all the accused face a maximum life term in prison.

Victims of the fire were mostly women who received as little as $37 to make clothing for international brands like Walmart, Dutch retailer C&A and ENYCE, a label owned by US rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Deadly accidents are common in Bangladesh's $20m garment industry and the Tazreen fire placed an international spotlight on safety conditions. 

More than 100 major Western retailers have signed new safety agreements so that there is greater scrutiny over their operations in Bangladesh. 

Source: AFP