Factory fire kills 23 in Bangladesh

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DHAKA - At least 23 workers were killed and many injured Tuesday in a garment factory fire in Dhaka’s Asulia industrial district, industry leaders and hospital officials said.

The rescuers sent 19 bodies to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the major public hospital in the city, for autopsy while the rest of the bodies were kept in local hospitals in Asulia, some 25 km northwest of the capital city, according to hospital officials.

Home Minister Sahara Khatun who visited the accident scene, ordered overnight rescue operations as firemen doused the flame after an eight-hour battle at 9 p.m. (1600 GMT).

The minister said that she was informed about deaths of 20 workers while the industry insiders put the toll to 12.

“We have received reports of 12 deaths so far, the victims and their families will be compensated,” said Abdus Salam Murshedi, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association.

The government and the owners association formed separate investigation teams to determine the cause of the fire that broke out at around 1 p.m. (0700 GMT) at the factory owned by the Hameem Group, one of Bangladesh’s largest private businesses.

Most of the deaths were caused either by suffocation or as the workers who trapped inside the factory jumped for safety, said a police officer.

The fire also destroyed cloth and machinery on the ninth and 10th floors of the 11-storey building.

Delwar Hossain, the deputy managing director of the factory, said that the fire might have been caused by a short circuit.

Firefighters were trying to put out the flames while the military used helicopters to evacuate workers.

The factory has a staff of more than 500.

Bangladesh’s garment exports, mostly destined for the European and US markets, earn more than $11 billion a year.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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