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.
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