Bangladesh Factory Fire Kills 8; Collapse Toll Tops 900

DHAKA (Reuters) -

Eight people were killed when a fire swept through a clothing factory in Bangladesh, police and an industry association official said on Thursday, as the death toll from the collapse of another factory building two weeks ago climbed above 900.

The fire, in an industrial district of Dhaka, comes amid global awareness of the lack of safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry following the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza on the outskirts of the city in the world’s deadliest industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984.

“It is not clear to us how the accident happened, but we are trying to find out the cause,” Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Reuters.

On Wednesday the Bangladesh government said it had shut down 18 garment factories for safety reasons following the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories making clothes for Western brands. Six were cleared to re-open on Thursday after inspectors issued safety certificates.

Bangladesh’s garment industry accounts for 80 percent of the poor South Asian country’s exports. The country has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.

The latest fire, in an 11-storey building in the Mirpur industrial district, broke out at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group, a large garment exporter.