Search for victims of Bangladesh fire

2010-12-15 11:01
Dhaka - Firefighters searched a gutted garment factory on Wednesday for more possible victims of a devastating fire that trapped workers and forced some to jump to their deaths. At least 29 fatalities were reported.

No more bodies were found on Wednesday morning but the search was continuing, Mohammad Ziauddin, a fire control room official, said by phone.

The fire that started during the lunch break on Tuesday was brought under control overnight and completely put out by midday on Wednesday.

Witnesses said many of the dead were trapped workers who jumped from the smouldering building engulfed by flames. While no more victims seemed to be inside the burnt factory, firefighters were still searching carefully, Ziauddin said.

He would not say an exact figure of casualties. Local media reported at least 29 dead.

"We are now actually trying to determine actual damage caused by the fire in the factory," he said. The cause wasn't yet determined, but the government is investigating.

Gate locked

The 10-storey factory near the capital, Dhaka, is owned by Ha-Meem Group, a local business giant that supplies major multinationals such as Gap and JCPenney. It said on Tuesday that victims' families would receive compensation.

The blaze broke out on the two upper floors during the lunch break, Monir Hossain, a local journalist at the scene, said. A gate on a stairwell was locked, trapping people inside the factory.

On Wednesday, the top floors showed visible damage such as burned-out windows.

About 13 000 people work at the factory on shifts each day, though most were outside buying lunch when the fire started, another journalist, Rafiqul Islam, said on Tuesday. He said he saw at least 25 bodies being loaded onto ambulances.

Factory worker Mohammad Atiq said by phone from the scene that he saw at least five people die after leaping off the upper floors.

Workers' safety in Bangladesh's rapidly growing textile industry is a major concern but in recent years has improved, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said.

Labour rights groups say safety standards are still inadequate in many factories.

Recent protests

In February, a fire at a sweater factory just outside Dhaka killed 21 people and injured dozens.

Bangladesh has about 4 000 garment factories that export more than $10bn worth of products a year, mainly to the United States and Europe. Customers include Wal-Mart, Tesco, H&M, Zara, Carrefour, Gap, Metro, JCPenney, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's, Levi Strauss and Tommy Hilfiger.

Recent protests by low-paid garment workers have gripped the country. Workers demanding the implementation of a new minimum wage clashed with police at an industrial zone in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving up to three people dead and 100 hurt.

Authorities opened fire and used tear gas after thousands of workers attacked factories and smashed vehicles at the Chittagong Export Processing Zone. The zone - 215km southeast of Dhaka - houses about 70 foreign companies that mainly manufacture garments, shoes and bicycles, and employ about 150 000 workers.

Smaller protests have taken place around Dhaka. On Sunday, workers in the capital blocked a busy road and set two vehicles on fire, police said.

Garment workers in Bangladesh are among the lowest-paid in the world, according to the International Trade Union Confederation, a Vienna-based labour rights group.

In the first increase since 2006, the government in July raised the official minimum wage to $45 a month from $25. The new pay structure took effect in November, but workers say many factories haven't implemented it yet.

- AP
Read more on:    bangladesh  |  fires
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.