Bangladesh hunts owner after factory inferno



Shafiq Alam | AFP

Published — Tuesday 27 November 2012

Last update 28 November 2012 1:35 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DHAKA: Bangladeshi police hunted a fugitive factory boss on Tuesday after claims that workers making cheap clothes for Western firms including Walmart were told that an alarm for a deadly fire was a routine drill.
About 1,000 workers took part in a second day of demonstrations against dangerous factory conditions as the country held a national day of mourning for the 110 killed in the inferno.
Green and red Bangladeshi flags flew at half mast alongside black flags on top of government offices and the nation’s 4,500 garment factories.
Two government inquiries have already been set up to try to establish the cause of the fire which broke out late Saturday at the Tazreen factory 30 kilometers (20 miles) outside the capital Dhaka.
It was the worst ever fire to hit Bangladesh’s garment industry, which employs three million and is the mainstay of the poverty-stricken country’s economy.
Dhaka police chief Habibur Rahman said officers wanted to interrogate Tazreen’s owner Delwar Hossain about alleged violations of building rules after inspectors found the nine-story factory only had permission for three floors.
“We shall also quiz him about allegations from survivors that his managers did not allow the workers to leave the factory when the fire broke out,” Rahman told AFP.
“As the smoke spread, the managers even told the workers that it was a fire drill, nothing to be afraid of.”
Police had opened a murder investigation as a result of criminal negligence at the plant, Rahman added. “We have launched a search for him and the managers but so far we have not been able to trace them.”
The search was launched as a fresh protest was held in the Ashulia industrial area, home to about 500 factories who sew clothing for global retailers.
Witnesses said around 1,000 workers took part in the march, holding black flags and chanting slogans demanding justice for the victims as well as denouncing the “death trap” working conditions.
On Monday several thousand workers held marches in Ashulia demanding Hossain’s arrest.
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest clothes exporter with overseas garment sales topping $19 billion last year, or 80 percent of national exports.
Forty percent of Bangladesh’s industrial workforce is employed in the sector but conditions are often basic and safety standards low.
Around 700 garment workers have been killed in dozens of fires since 2006, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, an Amsterdam-based textile rights group.
But none of the owners have so far faced prosecution for poor safety conditions. Campaigners say Western firms whose clothes are made in Bangladesh hide behind flimsy safety audits to help drive down costs.

Walmart ends ties with supplier
After European chain C&A and Hong Kong-based Li & Fung had confirmed they had orders at Tazreen, the US retail giant Walmart has now acknowledged some of its products were made there.
“A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies,” Walmart said in a statement Monday.
“Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier.
“The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.”
Labour activist Kalpona Akter, who took pictures of garments and labels left on Tazreen’s scorched floors, said other brands being made there included ENYCE, owned by the US rapper Sean Combs who is better known as Puff Daddy or P Diddy.
The European Union, the biggest market for Bangladeshi clothing, deplored the “appalling incident” Tuesday and called for better working conditions.
Witnesses of Saturday night’s blaze told how some desperate workers leapt to their deaths from upper floors as they tried to escape.
Fifty-five victims, whose bodies were charred beyond recognition, are due to be buried en masse Tuesday at a state graveyard after a funeral.
“We have kept their DNA samples so that we can identify their relatives for compensation,” Dhaka district commissioner Yusuf Harun told AFP.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has been awarded a top international prize for his contribution to the propagation of the Qur’an.He was named the “Islamic Personality of the Year” by the Holy Qur’an International Memorization Or...
JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier, minister of defense and chairman of the Economic Affairs and Development Council, held a meeting in Jeddah on Monday with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, deputy national security advis...

Stay Connected

Facebook