News / Asia

Police Arrest Bangladesh Factory Officials

Garment workers take part in a rally against the deaths of their colleagues after a devastating fire in a garment factory in Dhaka, November 27, 2012.
Garment workers take part in a rally against the deaths of their colleagues after a devastating fire in a garment factory in Dhaka, November 27, 2012.
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VOA News
Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested three factory officials in connection with a fire Saturday that killed at least 110 people.

The police chief in the capital, Dhaka, said the officials were arrested Wednesday amid allegations that managers told employees to return to work after fire alarms rang, and that locked doors trapped workers inside.

Hundreds of workers were unable to get out of the Tazreen Fashion factory as the fire burned. Fire officials say a lack of emergency exits contributed to the number of deaths.

  • 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.

Thousands of workers protested for a third day Wednesday, blocking streets and throwing stones at buildings. Riot police had to use tear gas and batons to control the crowds.

A reporter for The Associated Press searching the ruins of the factory Wednesday found the charred remains of clothing bearing major American and European brands, including Walmart's Faded Glory and Teddy Smith, and brands owned by hip-hop star Sean Combs. There also were account books containing entries for orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western companies.

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories that make clothes for international brands. The country earns about $20 billion annually from overseas clothing sales, which is about 80 percent of its exports.

Work conditions at the country's garment factories are notoriously poor. Officials say at least 500 people have died in Bangladesh in garment factory accidents and fires since 2006. Activists say plant owners are rarely prosecuted for poor safety conditions.

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