News / Asia

Bangladesh Mourns Factory Fire Victims

Bangladeshi people identify the bodies of their relatives died in a fire at a garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 25, 2012.
Bangladeshi people identify the bodies of their relatives died in a fire at a garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 25, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
Bangladesh is mourning the deaths of victims of a blaze that engulfed a garment factory as concerns grow about unsafe conditions in the country’s thriving garment industry, which has become a major hub for global retailers.  
 
Flags flew at half staff, factories were shut and prayers were held as Dhaka observed a day of mourning for the victims of a fire that ripped through the Tazreen factory on the outskirts of the city.    
 
In a statement, U.S. retail giant Walmart, said that the factory had been making clothes sold in its stores without its knowledge. It says a supplier had subcontracted work to the plant without its authorization. Walmart says it will continue to work with the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training.
 
Bangladesh’s apparel industry has become a key supplier to global retailers in recent years. But it is plagued with problems that are attracting international scrutiny. 


  • Garment workers and leaders shout slogans as they protest the deaths of their colleagues after a devastating fire in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 27, 2012.
  • Bangladeshi garments workers protest to mourn the death of the victims of Saturday's fire in a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 27, 2012.
  • Hundreds of Bangladeshi mourners watch as the bodies of victims of Saturday's fire in a garment factory are buried in Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 27, 2012.
  • Bangladeshis prepare to bury the bodies of some of the victims of Saturday's fire in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 27, 2012.
  • Workers try to break the gate of a garment factory during a protest against the death of their colleagues after a fire in another garment factory killed more than 100 people, in Savar, Bangladesh, November 26, 2012.
  • Bangladeshis protest outside a garment-factory where a fire killed more than 100 people Saturday on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 26, 2012.

Concerns are widespread about the poor wages paid to  workers - $37 a month. But the recent fire has highlighted another problem - lax safety standards at hundreds of factories, as they rush to fill orders.  
 
Zafrul Hasan at the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies in Dhaka says it is widely acknowledged that working conditions are inadequate at many factories.
 
“It is common knowledge there are many other premises where in case this type of accident takes place, there will be similar consequence," said Hasan. "Most of the factories, they are not equipped enough to deal with such hazards. Our electrical equipment are not up to the mark. It is a big management negligence.” 
 
The cause of Saturday’s fire has not been established, but investigators suspect a short circuit in the electrical wiring. Survivors of the blaze say an exit door was locked, trapping hundreds of workers. Many jumped to their deaths. Survivors say fire extinguishers did not work and bundles of fabrics and yarn stacked in passages had ignited, turning escape routes into death traps.
 
Saturday’s blaze was the deadliest in a garment factory in Bangladesh, but there have been others. Some 200 people have died in fires in the garment industry since 2006.
 
Hasan says the industry needs more stringent regulation.    
 
“The inspection mechanism in most cases, they don’t properly inspect whether everything is properly in place," said Hasan. "They say they do have enough manpower to inspect all the industries and sometimes the employers influence to make some kind of relaxation.”
 
Representatives of the Bangladesh garment industry and the government say sabotage could not be ruled out. But the latest blaze will bring the government under pressure to monitor safety lapses more closely in an industry that earns about $24 billion annually and accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s exports.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid