Deadly blaze in factory that made clothes for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands leaves families grief-stricken.
A fire that broke out in a 12-storey building housing four different garment factories in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has been almost brought under control, police say.
There were no reports of deaths in Monday’s blaze in the suburb of Uttara, but eight workers were injured due to heavy smoke, Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah, fire brigade director-general, told Reuters news agency.
The fire occurred just days after a similar incident killed 110 textile workers in a different facility in the city.
Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from the scene of Monday’s fire, said many workers coming out of the building were angry because the fire happened just two days after the deadly blaze.
“These are workers who make clothes for the world’s leading brands, so it’s expected that they should have international standards in these factories,” he said. “But since 2006, 600 factory workers have died in fires like this one.”
He said the new fire happened in a densely populated area and that had helped workers escape.
“They made their way up to the top floor and jumped out onto nearby buildings,” he said.
Separately, thousands of garment workers staged protests demanding better protection after the deadly inferno on Saturday night.
In that incident, fire engulfed a garment factory with no emergency exits that employed more than 1,000 workers. Some of the workers jumped from the eight-storey building where they made clothes for major global retailers.
|Workers managed to escape by jumping onto nearby
buildings from the roof [Nicolas Haque/Al Jazeera]
Ahead of the first of a series of mass funerals for the victims, survivors of the blaze joined several thousand colleagues to block a road and march in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia.
“Workers from several factories have left work and joined the protest. They want exemplary punishment for Tazreen’s owners,” said Dhaka police chief Habibur Rahman, referring to a plant near the capital where the blaze broke out.
Police said Ashulia’s more than 500 factories who make apparel for top global retailers such as Walmart, H&M and Tesco declared a wild-cat “holiday”, fearing that the protests could worsen and turn into large-scale unrest.
The protestors chanted a series of slogans, including a demand for Tazreen’s bosses to be brought to justice.
Local police chief Badrul Alam said officers had opened a murder investigation as a result of criminal negligence.
“We won’t spare anyone,” Alam promised as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a day of mourning for the dead. All factories will also be closed on Tuesday.
Investigators suspect that a short circuit caused Saturday night’s fire, according to Major Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would stand by the victims’ families and offered 100,000 takas ($1,250) to each of the families of the dead.
The association’s acting president, Siddiqur Rahman, said on a late-night talk show early on Monday that Tazreen’s owner was to meet group representatives later in the day.
“We will discuss what other things we can do for the families of the dead,” he said on Rtv, a private television station. “We are worried about what has happened. We hope to discuss everything in detail in that meeting.”
Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20bn from exports of garment products, mainly to the US and Europe.