Bangladesh garment factory fire claims 104 lives


DHAKA: More than 100 workers were killed when a fierce blaze tore through a busy garment factory in Bangladesh, forcing people to leap from high windows to escape the choking smoke and flames.

Firefighters battled for several hours to control the fire, which broke out  in the ground-floor warehouse of the nine-storey Tazreen Fashion factory, 30  kilometres (18 miles) north of the capital Dhaka on Saturday evening.

Survivors told how panicked staff, mostly women, desperately tried to  escape the blazing building, which made clothes for international brands  including Dutch chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.

“There were more than 1,000 workers trapped in the factory,” one worker who  gave her name only as Romesa, 42, told local media from her hospital bed.

“I jumped from a window on the fourth floor and found myself on the  third-story roof of another building. Several people fell out of the window and  died.”    The operations director of the fire brigade, Major Mahbub, who uses one  name, told AFP that the death toll had been lowered on Sunday morning to 104  from 121.

“There was some double counting as different fire teams were working on  different floors,” he said.

“But now we have a total of 104 dead bodies including several who jumped to  their deaths. Most bodies were found on the second floor. Most died of  suffocation.”    The owner of the Tazreen factory, Delwar Hossain, told AFP that the cause  of the fire was not yet known but he denied his premises were unsafe.

“It is a huge loss for my staff and my factory. This is the first time we  have ever had a fire at one of my seven factories,” he said, confirming that  the premises made clothes for Li and Fung of Hong Kong and C&A.

The cause was not immediately known but fires as a result of short circuits  and shoddy electrical wiring are common in Bangladeshi garment factories, which  use cheap labour to produce clothes shipped to Western countries.  -- AFP

Firefighters try to control a fire in a garment factory in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka November 24, 2012. At least seven people died and over 100 were injured as a fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions Limited in Savar on Saturday evening, police said. -- REUTERS photo

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