Seven killed in Bangladesh garment factory fire

CNN
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 8:48am

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- At least seven people died in a fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh's capital late Wednesday, police and the factory's general manager said.

Among those killed were a police officer and the factory owner, who were meeting at the facility when the blaze erupted, officials said.

Zabidur Rahman, the general manager of the factory, said the fire broke out on the third floor of the 11-story sweater factory in Dhaka's Mirpur district.

He said a nurse at the hospital told him all seven victims suffocated.

However, Mohammad Mahbub of the Bangladesh Fire Service said the factory was closed and there were no workers at the factory when the fire broke out at 11 p.m. local time.

The news comes the same day Bangladeshi officials said the death toll in a building collapse two weeks ago had risen to 912.

The building, which housed five factories full of garment workers, caved in, burying hundreds of people in a heap of mangled concrete in Savar, another suburb of Dhaka.

Bangladesh has promised to implement a series of labor reforms as retailers weigh the cost of doing business in the country.

The measures, detailed in a statement issued by the United Nations' International Labor Organization, include the recruitment of 200 additional building inspectors within six months, a review of current garment producers and a promise to fix all problematic factories.

The agreement between the U.N. organization and Bangladeshi officials comes amid growing international concern about working conditions in the country.

Yet implementation remains a question. Bangladesh is politically volatile, and analysts say substantial work is needed to change a culture of lax regulation and cozy relations between factory owners and the government.

According to state media, Bangladesh's Cabinet decided April 29 to inspect the safety and security of all garment factories.

Under the inspection plan, a committee led by a state minister would visit the factories and submit a report to the government about the safety measures, Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters.

The panel includes the ministries of home, labor, disaster management, textiles, defense, industries and environment.

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