Bangladesh Factory Fire Claims 37 Lives : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Saturday November 25 8:08 PM ET Bangladesh Factory Fire Claims 37 Lives

DHAKA (Reuters) - At least 37 people, mostly women, were killed and many others injured when fire swept through a four-story garment factory near the Bangladesh capital on Saturday night, fire-fighters said.

Fire engines rushed to the Chowdhury Knitwear Factory at Narsingdi, 40 miles from Dhaka, but by the time they arrived 37 people, most of them women garment workers, had already died from smoke inhalation or burns or trying to escape.

``Many inside the blazing building jumped through the windows, some scrambled for a way out on the narrow staircases while others were screaming helplessly,'' said a fireman at the scene.

Other firemen said it took them nearly an hour to break through the heavy wood and metal gate to send in rescuers, and a further two hours to put out the blaze.

``People gathered around trying to help but they could not get close due to the heat,'' one witness said.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

Earlier this year at least 13 garment workers died in a similar incident at Banani in the capital.

Clothing is Bangladesh's biggest export, bringing the country over $4 billion, or about 80 percent of its total annual export earnings.

Police said nearly 200 people had died and over 1,000 were injured in garment factory fires in Bangladesh over the last two years

The government has issued repeated instructions to garment factory owners to install adequate fire exits and hold emergency fire drills, but only a few have responded, police said.

The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also warned it would shut down or cancel the permits of factories failing to comply with safety regulations, but little action has been taken.

Some 3,000 garment factories in Bangladesh employ nearly two million workers, over 90 percent of them women, BGMEA sources said.

-- Rachel Gibson (, November 25, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ