Bangladesh factory fire kills at least 20

By Stephanie Brown

Photo shows fire blazing in a garments factory in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh – At least 20 people were reportedly killed and at least 100 others were injured after a fire hit a factory just outside of Dhaka.

According to a fire official in Bangladesh, the fire started Tuesday in the factory owned by a local company Ha-Meem Group. The factory is 10-stories high and manufactures garments for international companies such as Gap and JCPenney.

Many of those who died included workers who jumped of the blazing factory, this according to several witnesses in the area.

The local government ordered an immediate investigation as the main cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Interior Minister Shahara Khatun said that they will investigate if the fire incident is related to recent violent protests by workers. The workers are disputing the wages they are receiving from the garments factory.

There were several reports about the total number of workers that were killed however, the official body count is yet to be released. Local officials said that at least 20 were killed and they are expecting the death toll to increase.

It was lunch time when the fire started and most of the workers are already outside buying their lunch. There is an estimated 13,000 people working in the factory on shifts each day.

Firefighters and rescuers still continued their search of the factory. The fire was said to be under control by Tuesday evening, said fire Deputy Director Abdur Rashid.

The company that owned the factory and other institutions have pledged to give support to families that were left by those who died and promised to pay for the treatment of those who were injured.

Bangladesh has thousands of garment factories across the country and is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of textiles. They export an estimate of $10 billion worth of products every year but according to the International Trade Union Confederation, Garment workers in Bangladesh are among the lowest-paid in the world.

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