Tailoring factory where blaze killed scores had no fire exits

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There were no emergency exits at a Bangladesh factory hit by a deadly blaze which killed scores of workers, it emerged yesterday.

There were no emergency exits at a Bangladesh factory hit by a deadly blaze which killed scores of workers, it emerged yesterday.

At least 112 people were killed in the fire which tore through the seven-storey factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Walmart and other major retailers in the US and Europe just outside the capital Dhaka, yesterday.

By yesterday, firefighters had recovered 100 bodies, fire brigade operations director Major Mohammad Mahbub said.

He said another 12 people who had suffered injuries after jumping from the building to escape the fire died later in hospital.

The death toll could rise as the search for victims was continuing, he said.

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country earns about £12.5 billion a year from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.

Maj Mahbub said firefighters recovered 69 bodies from the second floor of the factory alone. He said most of the victims had been trapped inside, with no emergency exits leading outside the building.

Many workers who had taken shelter on the roof of the factory were rescued, but firefighters were unable to save those who were trapped inside.

The fire broke out on the ground floor, which is used as a warehouse, and spread quickly to the upper floors.

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” Maj Mahbub said. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building. Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower.”

Soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed to 
help police keep the situation under control as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered at the scene.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the loss of a huge number of lives in the blaze.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association said the association would stand by the victims’ families.

Relatives of the factory workers were frantically looking for their loved ones. Sabina Yasmine said she saw the body of her daughter-in-law, who died in the fire, but had no trace of her son, who also worked at the factory.

“Oh, Allah, where’s my soul? Where’s my son?” wailed Yasmine, who works at another factory in the area. “I want the factory owner to be hanged. For him, many have died, many have gone.”

Elsewhere, a flyover under construction fell onto a busy market, leaving at least 14 people dead including three construction workers in the southeastern city of Chittagong, an official said yesterday.

Local fire official Abdul Mannan said the concrete structure collapsed on Saturday night, and authorities recovered the bodies by yesterday from under the debris in the second-largest city after Dhaka.