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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunday, January 27, 2013
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Fire at Garment Factory

7 killed

Workplace safety horrendous

Locals hold the hose pipe up as firefighters try to douse the flames that broke out at a garment factory of Mohammadpur in the capital yesterday. At least six lives perished in the blaze. Photo: Palash Khan

Around two months after the country's worst industrial fire in Ashulia, a blaze yesterday killed at least seven female workers at a garment factory in the capital's Mohammadpur.

The cause of the fire at Smart Export Garment Ltd near Beribandh could not be known. Witnesses said it began around 2:40pm in the storage space with a lot of flammable sponges there.

Like the fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia on November 24 last year, which left at least 112 workers killed and around 100 others injured, workers at Smart Garment alleged that all exits at the factory were closed.

Both the collapsible gates were locked and there were no guards.

When they finally showed up and unlocked the gates, smoke was billowing out of the staircase, said some workers, adding that a stampede was inevitable.

Owner of a nearby tea-stall said when the gate was opened, a large number of workers tumbled to the ground just outside the gate in a desperate bid to save their lives. He said he along with some locals took away some injured and went into the factory to rescue others.

Sources said some workers jumped off the factory windows.

The dead were identified as Kohinur Akhter, Razia Akhter, Fatema Akhter, Nasima Akhter, Jyotsna Akhter, Nasima Begum, and Laizu.

All of them were pronounced dead after they were rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Zainul Haque Sikder Women's Medical College and Hospital in Mohammadpur, Manjurul Kabir, DMP deputy commissioner (Tejgaon), told The Daily Star.

Doctors at Sikder hospital said 11 workers were brought to the hospital.

Six of them were brought dead, said Anjan Lal Ghosh, an assistant professor (orthopaedic) and resident physician at the emergency section of the hospital.

He said the five injured bore stampede injuries and the dead had signs of smoke inhalation. The bodies were handed over to the families.

Many other were also injured but the authorities concerned at hospitals and clinics could not name them in their rush to treat the injured.

Nine fire engines took part in fighting the blaze and it took them over an hour and a half to get things under control at the two-story factory building, said Mahbubur Rahman, director (operations) of Fire Service and Civil Defence.

Deputy Assistant Director Masudur Rahman of the fire service, who led the fire-fighters, said. "When we reached the spot we saw the factory was engulfed in blaze. It means we were informed rather late."

Factory officials said they tried to control the fire themselves first and when things got out of hand, they called in the fire brigade.

Masudur Rahman said the sponges helped spread the fire fast and created toxic smoke.

He said they did not find any fire-fighting equipment at the factory, even though the factory officials claimed that they had such equipment.

Injured Rozina Akhter, a sewing machine operator having treatment at a hospital, said, "Suddenly, I saw the fire and we rushed to the staircase to get out.

"A big push from behind threw me to the ground. I lost consciousness and I can't remember anything else. When I woke up, I found myself at the hospital," she said.

According to sources, at the time of the fire, about 360 workers were at the factory. The factory, on over 10,000 square feet, produces men's trousers and jackets. The ground floor of the building houses a bakery and a few garages.

Although the name of the factory and the garment items found there suggested that it was an export-oriented one, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said the factory was not its member.

The fire service has formed a four-member committee to investigate the incident.

Altaf Hossain Sikder, father of victim Razia, filed a case with Mohammadpur Police Station last night accusing five factory officials of negligence.

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The exact cause of the fire may not be known yet, but this time everyone must make serious effort to find out the actual cause of this fire that took place only 2 months after the country's deadliest industrial fire at another garment factory. Yes accident may happen; fire can start in the storage or other place, but one must not rule out the possibility of sabotage or arson in a country where politics is so dirty – that grenade attack on political rally and killing of national leaders inside jail also took place.

: Asad Zaman

How many lives have to be lost, how many fires incidents have to happen, how many workers have to get injured or become handicapped, how many garments have to burn down before this govt will ever act to ensure fire compliances and workers safety throughout the industries? Until then, the govt is the only party accountable and liable for these losses of lives and damages. It is the people who need to elect the govt responsive to these basic and fundamental demands, not the one that gives only lip services, finger paintings, excuses.

: Roni Rahman


  • Misbah Uddin Sumon
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 07:09 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Dhaka city is very risky zone for fire and earthquake because unplanned urbanisation, over population, unsafe garments factory and lack of proper training of disaster management. Fire training is very vital for any kind of government and non-government organisation because first responders are the victim and neighbouring people. If neighbouring people as well as garment’s workers have basic training of fire fighting then any kind of fire can be extinguished at the first stage like nip in the bud. Where workers and owners will not die and lose valuable machinery. Sometimes fire service cannot provide enough effort because traffic jam is inevitable in our Dhaka city and our road system is so narrow where fire fighters cannot easily move. So first ensure security than labour or industry.

  • nayem
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 08:32 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Fire, fire and fire. Tell me how much more kill in fire.

  • Ahsan Kabir
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:16 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Retaining GSP facility and maintaining compliance with all security and safety issues must go hand in hand. Again a fuel to the fire has been added prompting USA and European think again if our garment industry shall continue getting their blessings.

  • Iftikhar-ul-Awwal
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:20 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Since Bangladesh government, BGMEA and BKMEA have failed miserably to make the garment factories safe work places, it is now on the buyers, especially the EU and USA to step in and do the needful. It is a shame that human lives are being burnt so horrifically as a result of neglect and of lack of adequate safety measures now and then. The insensitive owners wash off easily by paying a little monetary compensation but the sad tale remains to be replicated again and again. Should we not hold the owners culpable for multiple murders?

  • Asad Zaman
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:26 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh needs 200 patriotic as well as investigative journalists, who are capable of contributing to determine the causes underlying this kind of mysterious fires that are taking place one after one.

  • Faisal
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:17 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    It is obvious that garments owners are not getting any lessons from government, or law and order authorities, or BGMEA or foreign buyers. There should be a govt regulatory body for this industry.

  • mohd ismail
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:26 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Not only fire safety - there is no safety measures whatsoever in this country. Don't know why this country celebrates independence ... For what? I think just for politics.

  • md. shahjahan
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:41 AM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Take punitive action immediately.

  • Noman
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 04:39 PM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    It is not acceptable . we want to change this . Why has not govt taken action ?

  • Shibesh Kirttania
    Sunday, January 27, 2013 05:31 PM GMT+06:00 (158 weeks ago)

    Recurrence of the same accident in the wake of the Tazreen tragedy poses real threat to the prospect of garments exports to the USA and European countries.





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