Fire Sweeps Clothing Factory in Bangladesh — Over 100 Killed

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — At least 100 people were killed as a fire swept  through a garment factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital, the chief of  the fire brigade said Sunday.

The fire at the nine-story factory in  the Ashulia industrial belt started on the ground floor late Saturday and  quickly spread, trapping hundreds of workers.

“So far, the confirmed death toll is 109, including nine who died by jumping  from the building,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of the fire brigade, told  Reuters.

However, other sources earlier said the toll could be much higher. Abu Nayeem Mohammad  Shahidullah, director general of the fire brigade, told Reuters 120 bodies had been recovered. It was not clear if his count had been revised.

Bangladeshi firefighters battle a fire at a garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, late Saturday.

Fire department Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub told The Associated Press that the nine-story factory was operated by Tazreen Fashions.Witnesses said the workers, mostly women, ran for safety as the fire engulfed  the plant, but were unable to come out through narrow exits.

“Many  jumped out from the windows and were injured, or died on the spot,” said Milon, a  resident. “We are appalled to see the charred bodies coming out of the factory since last night. It was an endless stream.”

Mahbub said army soldiers and border guards had been deployed to help police  keep the situation under control as thousands of anxious relatives of the  factory workers gathered at the scene.

Bangladesh has around 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for such  brands as Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer,  Kohl’s and Carrefour.

Bangladesh is the world’s biggest exporter of clothing after China, with  garments making up 80 percent of its $24 billion annual exports.

But  safety standards at the factories are poor and not enforced strictly, causing  scores of accidents each year.

Saturday’s fire was the worst in years, and rescuers and  police said the death count may surpass any previous toll.

Source: NBC News

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