Eight dead as blaze hits Dhaka clothing factory

Bangladesh has been rocked by a clothing factory fire as the death toll from last month’s disaster rose past 900.

The blaze tore through an 11-storey building housing a garment factory and residential complex in the capital Dhaka, killing at least eight people including the factory’s managing director.

The fire raced through the lower floors of Tung Hai Sweater Factory – which had closed for the day – as well as apartments, fire officials said. The cause is not yet known.

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The fire burned parts of the first and second floors, which housed the factory, and parts of the third, which housed apartments.

The eight confirmed dead so far were found in a stairwell, apparently trying to flee the building.

They included the factory director Mahbubur Rahman, who was also a leading official with the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. A police official was also among the dead, according to officials.

It took more than three hours for firefighters to get control of the blaze, which began soon after the factory’s 300 workers had gone home for the day.

The country’s garment industry has been plagued by a series of disasters in recent months, including a fire last November at the Tazreen factory that killed 112.

However, last month’s collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building, which housed five garment factories, stands out as the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment manufacturing industry.

More than two weeks after the collapse, workers with cranes and other heavy equipment were still pulling apart the rubble and finding more bodies. The death toll rose to 912 yesterday morning, while it is unclear how many more people remain missing. More than 2,500 were rescued alive after the April 24 disaster.

A total of 648 bodies have so far been handed over to the families. Some of those who authorities have been unable to identify have been buried by the government.

About 100 decomposing bodies have been kept at a makeshift morgue and are to be sent to hospitals in Dhaka for DNA testing.