Scene from another sweatshop fire, back in February.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A devastating blaze raced through a garment factory near Bangladesh's capital on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 100, witnesses and news reports said.
Fire official Golam Mostafa said the fire started in a 10-story factory owned by local business giant Hameem Group in the Ashulia industrial zone, just outside Dhaka. It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze, and the government ordered an investigation.
While it was generally thought to be an accident, some believed it could be arson.
Interior Minister Shahara Khatun said after visiting the site that her ministry would investigate whether it was related to recent violent protests at textile factories over wages.
Monir Hossain, a local journalist at the scene, told The Associated Press the blaze broke out on the two upper floors during lunch break. A gate on a stairwell was locked, trapping people inside the factory, which mainly produces T-shirts for international brands, he quoted witnesses as saying.
Another journalist, Rafiqul Islam, said he saw at least 25 bodies being loaded onto ambulances.
Diganta television reported at least 26 people died and more than 100 were injured. ATN News said rescuers recovered at least 24 bodies.
Islam said about 13,000 people work at the factory each day, though most were outside buying lunch when the fire started. Officials predicted the death toll would rise, he said.
Soldiers and police cordoned off the building as firefighters continued their search.
The company and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association announced they would provide 100,000 takas ($1,370) in compensation to families of the dead and would pay for the treatment of the injured.
Workers' safety in the rapidly growing textile industry is a major concern but in recent years has improved, the association said.
Labor rights groups say safety standards are still inadequate in many factories.
In February, a fire at a sweater factory just outside Dhaka killed 21 people and injured dozens.
Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories that export more than $10 billion worth of products a year, mainly to the United States and Europe. Customers include Wal-Mart, Tesco, H&M, Zara, Carrefour, Gap, Metro, JCPenney, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's, Levi Strauss and Tommy Hilfiger.
Read more at NY Times.
Triangle Shirtwaist never shut down, they just moved overseas.