What products are sold online in Bangladesh

Bangladesh: More than 100 dead in fire in textile factory

At least 112 people died in a fire in a textile factory in Bangladesh. The fire broke out on Saturday evening in a nine-story building in the Savar industrial district on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka; Only after four hours did the fire brigade bring the major fire under control. After the extinguishing work was over, 100 bodies were recovered from the factory. Another twelve people who were seriously injured after jumping out of the burning house died in the hospital.

The number of deaths found could continue to rise as the search for victims continues, the fire department said. Local media count 124 dead. Another 200 people were burned. Around 1,000 workers were sewing in the factory at the time of the accident.

69 bodies were recovered on the first floor alone. Most of the victims were locked inside the building because there were no emergency exits. "The factory had three stairwells and all led to the ground floor," said a fire department spokesman. The fire started there, however, so that there were no escape opportunities for several hundred of the mostly female workers. The cause of the fire was initially unclear.

Many victims were burned beyond recognition. Soldiers and border police were called because thousands of worried relatives of factory workers gathered nearby. It was the worst fire of its kind in the country to date.

Lots of workers in a confined space

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was shocked. She urged the authorities to keep looking for victims. The Association of Textile Manufacturers and the Association of Exporters announced aid for the families of the victims.

There are around 5,000 textile factories in Bangladesh. The working conditions there are usually very difficult. The legal minimum wage is withheld from textile workers. There are few safety and health precautions in the factories, and many people often work in a very confined space. In 2006, 84 people died in a fire in a port in Chittagong City. At that time the doors of the emergency exits could not be opened.

Textiles are the country's most important export product: By selling textiles primarily to the USA and Europe, Bangladesh earns 15.5 billion euros annually. Customers include H&M, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Carrefour and Tesco.

Criticism of the lack of security standards

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) criticized poor working and safety conditions in many textile factories in Bangladesh. They favored devastating accidents, said CCC coordinator Lars Stubbe. Very often there are no reasonable emergency exits; possible escape routes are full and blocked with goods. According to CCC, over 470 people, mostly women, have died in fires in Bangladesh's textile factories since 2006.

A spokesman for the burned down factory in Savar, however, said the company had complied with EU standards, including several alternative stairways. However, the workers rushed to the main exit in a panic.

CCC also criticized the fact that in Bangladesh the work of free trade unions was extremely hindered. It is therefore difficult to improve labor and safety standards in the low-wage country. Politicians there have little interest in it. German clients should also be aware of their shared responsibility.

Stubbe said that mostly young women were employed at the lowest wages with a regular overwork. The women, who mostly moved from villages to the big cities, often lived in shared accommodation. They would have to spend a large part of their wages on renting them.