DHAKA: A fire in a textile factory in Bangladesh Saturday killed three workers and left five injured, police said, in the latest accident to cast a spotlight on the country’s hazardous garment industry.
A Pakistani technician was among those killed in the blaze in the sprawling complex belonging to fabric manufacturer Mom Tex in Narsingdi, just outside the capital Dhaka.
Police officials said the fire started on the ground floor of a seven-storey building where chemicals and dyes were stored, trapping workers who were resting before their shift.
“Three workers who were resting near the chemical storage unit have died of suffocation and burns,” police inspector Shahidur Rahman told AFP.
“At least five workers were also injured and were rushed to a hospital,” he said.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control in around two hours, Narsingdi police chief Amena Begum told AFP.
A company official confirmed the deaths to AFP.
“We suspect the electricity short-circuited, causing a fire in the storage room where dyes and paints were kept,” Nazmul Islam, a deputy general manager of Mom Tex said.
“The workers who were resting in the upper floors died due to suffocation from smoke,” he said.
Fires and other accidents are common in the factories that make up the $27-billion garment industry in Bangladesh, the world’s second-biggest apparel exporter after China.
In November 2012, at least 111 workers were killed when a devastating fire engulfed a nine-storey garment factory in the Ashulia industrial area, outside the capital Dhaka.
The accident was followed by an even bigger tragedy six months later when 1,138 people died after another clothing factory complex collapsed, trapping over 3,000 workers.
But the incidence of fires has declined in recent years after two groups of global apparel brands and the Bangladesh government began to push through crucial safety reforms in the nation’s 4,500 garment factories.
Set up in 2012, Mom Tex is part of the Pakiza group of companies, one of the nation’s largest sari and fabric makers catering largely to the domestic market.