Bangladesh police have charged at least 13 people for the country’s worst garment factory fire that killed 111 workers.
Police charged Delwar Hossain and his wife, the owners of Tazreen Fashions, along with security guards and managers over the blaze last November that gutted the building, Mohsinuzzaman Khan, police investigator in the case, told AFP news agency on Sunday.
The investigation took 13 months, but Sunday’s negligence charges set an important benchmark.
“This was possibly the first time a garment plant owner” has been charged over a fire at one of the nation’s 4,500 factories, Khan said.
Deadly accidents are common in Bangladesh’s factors due to poor safety standards.
This particular fire was trumped only months later by the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory complex in Dhaka that killed at least 1,135 people.
Victims of the factory fire were mostly women who received as little as $37 a month to stitch clothing for international brands including US giant Walmart, Dutch retailer C&A and ENYCE, a label owned by US rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs.
The fire highlighted the appalling safety conditions in the more than $20bn garment industry.
Workers jumped from upper storey windows as they could not use fire exits because they led to the ground floor where the fire broke out, firefighters told AFP.
Bangladesh pledged to clean up the industry after the Rana Plaza disaster in April and more than 100 top Western retailers have signed up to new safety agreements to allow greater scrutiny of their operations.