At least seven female workers of a readymade garment factory in Mohammadpur’s Beribadh area were killed in a stampede as a fire broke out in there on Saturday.
Fire Services Director (Operations) Mahbubur Rahmand told bdnews24.com the fire broke out in one ‘Smart’ factory at around 2pm and was controlled after about two hours.
The deaths were reportedly caused when they tried to rush to safety following the outbreak of fire.
DMCH police camp Sub-Inspector Mohammad Bacchu Mia said doctors declared Joshna dead after she, along with one of her fellow workers Liza, was taken there at around 3.30pm.
“Doctors at the Sikder Medical College declared five female workers of the factory dead after they were rushed there in a critical condition,” Mohammadpur Police Station Officer in Charge Azizul Haque said.
The victims have been identified as Nasima Begum, 18, Nasima Akhter, 16, Kahinur Akhter, 16, Fatema Akhter, 17, and Nazia Akhter, 17.
Another four workers were undergoing treatment in the same hospital, Azizur added.
The police official said police brought the body of Laizu Akhter, 17, to the hospital in the evening from her residence at Mohammadpur.
The ill-fated worker was rushed to the local hospital by her family members where the doctors declared her dead.
Meanwhile, Disaster Management Ministry official Mohammad Nurul Islam said relatives of each of the deceased and injured in the incident would be given Tk 20,000 and Tk 10,000, respectively, as compensation.
He said the bodies would be handed over to the relatives without any autopsy following requests from them.
Mamtaz Begum, one of the factory workers who managed to escape safe, said she was working at the factory’s Finishing Section when the fire erupted.
“The fire might have originated from the Iron Section,” she said.
She also said the factory had some 350 workers and added the number of causalities was ‘less’ as the fire broke out during launch time.
The OC said one of the factory’s security officials Farid Alam told police that he saw the flames coming from the boiler of the factory.
“The boiler was repaired on Saturday,” he added.
Meanwhile, BGMEA's Crisis Management Cell chief Khaled Mansur has said the factory was not approved by them.
State Minister for LGRD Jahangir Kabir Nanak and IGP Hasan Mahmud also visited the spot.
Workers and their relatives took to streets in the area around 6pm alleging some workers had been missing since the outbreak of the fire.
Fire Services Deputy Assistant Director Abdul Halim said the fire could have originated from an electrical short circuit.
He claimed they found no one trapped inside the factory when they entered there.
Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of readymade garments after China, and clothes account for up to 80 percent of the country's $24-billion annual exports.
Despite such high returns from the readymade garments sector, safety of the workers has been overlooked and factory fire is not a new issue in the country. A recent devastating fire killed over 110 workers in Tazreen Fashions Ltd in the Ashulia industrial area.
In Dec 2010, at least 25 people were killed in a fire in the same industrial area. On Feb 2006, an incident of fire in the KTS Textiles and Garments had claimed 54 lives in Chittagong.