Bangladesh factory fire kills 111 garment workers


More than 100 clothing workers, mostly women, were killed when a fire swept through a nine-storey textile factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital.

The fire, which is thought to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, began on Saturday evening and took 13 hours to control. It was only yesterday morning, that the full extent of the death toll was discovered. A total of 111 people are thought to have died.

It was the first major fire in Bangladesh’s garment factories in six years, and one of the country’s most deadly fires. The factory, which is in the village Nischintapur just outside Dhaka, employed about 1,200 workers. It is owned by Tazreen Fashion, part of the Tuba group, which sells to companies such as Walmart, Teddy Smith and the Edinburgh-based EWM.

Bharat Chandra Bishwas, a fire service official, said it appeared to have been caused by short circuits from a generator. Habibur Rahman, Dhaka’s police chief, said sabotage was not suspected.

Some workers claimed security staff stopped workers using staircases to escape. Zahirul Islam, a 35-year-old garments worker, said he was told by security officials not to use the stairs. “Along with some other workers, I broke a large exhaust fan and jumped through the hole onto a tin roof of an adjacent building,” he said.

Munni Akhter, 18, was less lucky. “She tried to escape but got caught in the fire,” said her father Shohidul Islam. “My wife got to the roof top and survived.”

Baroness Warsi, the Foreign Office minister, said she was “shocked and saddened” by the loss of life and extended “heartfelt sympathy” to the people of Bangladesh.