9 die in fire at Bangladesh clothing factory

Firefighters work on the garment factory fire. An official said the fabric in the building was making the fire difficult to fight.

Story highlights

  • 16 fire engines are still working to put out the fire
  • Officials said some 2,000 people were working in the factory as the fire began
  • Many people were injured as they tried to escape the fire, officials say
At least nine workers died as fire ripped through a multistory clothing factory at Ashulia, on the outskirts of Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Saturday night, officials said. Seven of the victims were women.
"The firefighters have recovered nine bodies so far and they are still working to put out the blaze," said Dhaka District Police Superintendent Habibur Rahman.
Officials said the fire started on the first floor of the nine-story Tazreen Fashions Ltd. building and it immediately spread to other floors, leaving hundreds of workers, mostly women, trapped.
Police said at least 200 people were injured as they rushed to get out of the building.
"Many were injured in stampede and others wounded as they jumped off the building," said a rescuer.
Sixteen engines of fire service and civil defense had not put out the fire completely after more than eight hours.
"It's become really difficult because the factory was packed with fabrics, yarn and cottons," said Maj. Mahbub, director of the fire service.
He said the death toll might rise because firefighters could not enter some floors of the building.
Officials said some 2,000 people were working in the factory as the fire began, but it was unclear how many had been rescued.
Scores of people were anxiously waiting outside the burning factory in search of their relatives.
Bilkis Akhter, mother of teenage factory worker Munni Akhter, said she had checked with the hospitals and police stations but did not find her daughter, who had been working on the fourth floor.
Bangladesh's ready-made garments make up 80% of the country's $24 billion in annual exports.
The country has around 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for stores including Tesco, Walmart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's and Carrefour. The sector earned $19 billion this year as of June.
The state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha recently reported that some 6,000 people die every year in fire in Bangladesh.