Bangladesh blaze factory had 6 illegal storeys: govt

Published: November 26, 2012

This picture taken on 24 November, 2012 shows Bangladeshi people and firefighters trying to extinguish a fire in a garment factory in Savar, 30 kilometres north of Dhaka. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA: The builders of the nine-storey factory in which 110 workers died in Bangladesh’s worst textile industry fire had only been granted permission for a three-floor construction, an official said Monday.

“We gave them permission to build a three-storey factory. But they expanded the building without any approval from us,” Habibul Islam, the government’s chief inspector of factories, told AFP.

Islam’s comments came as the government and police launched separate probes into the fire on Saturday at Tazreen Fashion that left at least 110 workers dead as many struggled to escape from upper floors.

Survivors told AFP that the factory, built outside Dhaka in 2009, did not have proper fire exits.

Bangladeshi law does not allow expansion of any factory without approval by the Office of the Chief Inspector of Factories.

Dozens of workplace fires have killed more than 600 employees in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry since 2006, but none of the owners have been prosecuted for poor safety conditions.

“We had tough laws to tackle this kind of gross violation,” said a senior official of the inspection office, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But in recent years intense pressures from the owners meant the laws were tamed.”

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