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: A Mercedes car with a Saudi number plate was spotted in Israel. The discovery led to intense discussion on social media websites on Tuesday.According to reports, the car was spotted last week in Jaffa’s Clock Tower Square by Jacky Hugi, the M...
RIYADH: The Kingdom is experiencing extremely hot weather conditions.According to a report from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME), Central Province, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, experienced “extremely hot weather with surface winds a...
ALKHOBAR: Many Saudi citizens travel outside the Kingdom during vacations looking for entertainment for themselves and their families as entertainment facilities in the Kingdom do not meet their aspirations. They have called for setting up entertainm...
TAIF: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inaugurated state-of-the-art Radf public park in Taif which has an interactive fountain — the biggest of its kind in the Kingdom and spread over 13,000 sq meters. The fountain has colored lighting and a displ...
JEDDAH: The Special Criminal Court has issued a preliminary order in a case related to a Saudi national who fought with militant organizations in Syria. The court, functioning at its summer headquarters in Jeddah, sentenced him to a seven-year jail t...
RI YADH: The Kingdom has decided to increase the financial aid to Palestine by raising its monthly aid to the Palestinian Authority’s budget from $14 million to $20 million. The substantial increase brings Saudi Arabia’s yearly aid for Palestine to $...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ambassador to Jordan has rejected terror charges against Saudis incarcerated in Iraqi jails and slammed the government of that country for concealing information on the inmates."The file of Saudi prisoners in Iraq has grabbed the at...
JEDDAH: Six female members of the Shoura Council participated in a training program to raise awareness among citizens on the municipal elections in which women will participate. The program was organized by Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women un...
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has issued an order appointing and promoting 96 members at the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIPP) at various ranks.Sheikh Mohammed bin Fahd Al Abdullah, BIPP president, expresse...
DAMMAM: After the recent increase in verbal and physical harassment of women and girls in the Kingdom, they have turned to martial arts in order to protect themselves. Amani Yassin, a coach at Taekwondo Training Institute, said: “Saudi women are inte...
RIYADH: A youth has been arrested for allegedly killing a Saudi man near the Madinah airport recently. The police apprehended the alleged killer without incident. The suspect, a 24-year-old Saudi, is alleged to have stabbed the victim several times...
RIYADH: A total of 4,326 male and female students started their local and regional summer program for 2015 under the sponsorship of the King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for the Gifted and Creativity (Mawhiba) throughout the Kingdom on Su...
BURAIDAH: The security patrolling team in Qassim detained a woman for driving a car on the streets of Buraidah.Her case was referred to the higher-ups for necessary action.According to Maj. Badar Al-Sahibani, spokesman Qassim police, the woman is ide...
RIYADH: Recent statistics announced by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, which coincided with consensus surveys in the Kingdom for the year 2014, revealed that there is only one doctor for each 800 people, and one nurse for every 285 peopl...
Indian expats have paid glowing tributes to one of its most beloved presidents and iconic leaders on Tuesday, as condolences poured in from various parts of the Kingdom for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam following his sudden death on Monday.Hemant Kotalwar, char...

Stay Connected

Facebook