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Eight die in Dhaka garment factory blaze

Second garment factory tragedy in two weeks

Eight die in Dhaka garment factory blaze

Wednesday's fire was the second tragedy to hit Bangladesh's garment fadctory in two weeks (AFP photo/Munir Uz Zaman) reporter, Dhaka

May 9, 2013

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A fire at a Dhaka garment factory killed at least eight people on Wednesday as the death toll from a building collapse at a commercial center which included a clothing factory climbed to nearly 900.

In the second tragedy to hit Bangladesh’s garment industry in two weeks, a blaze broke out at Tung Hai Sweater Factory at 11pm local time, an accident which could have been much worse had 2,000 workers not already left the premises.

“We think that the deaths were due to breathing in dense black smoke,” said Imtiaz Ahmed, a police official.

Bangladesh’s garment sector has seen a number of deadly fires in recent years. In November, 111 workers were killed when a fire broke out at a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka.

With the International Labor Organization (ILO) sending a high-level delegation to Bangladesh last week, questions have been raised over safety standards within an industry which recorded US$20 billion in shipments last year, about 80 percent of the country’s total export earnings.

The ILO has produced a roadmap to reform the country’s garment sector by the end of the year, said textiles minister Abdul Latif Siddique.

“We have already closed down 18 factories for failing to comply with building codes and ILO standards,” he said.

Only 58 inspectors monitor the industry, which employs five million workers – mostly women – in 5,000 factories across the country.

“There is no one-time solution for the series of problems in the industry,” said labor leader Nazma Akter. “The government needs to be very serious about implementing the labor law and getting all the resources to monitor and safeguard the industry.”

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