DHAKA: A fire at a garment factory killed at least eight people on Thursday in the latest disaster to hit Bangladesh’s textile industry, still reeling from the death of more than 920 people in a building collapse.
The cause of the fire was not known but authorities said it broke out during the night on the third floor of an 11-story building housing two garment factories in Dhaka’s Darus-salam district.
The owner of the Tung Hai sweater factory was among the victims, but there were no workers among the casualties as there was no overnight production, police and fire service officials said.
“It was a big fire but we managed to confine it on one floor,’’ said Mahbubur Rahman, operations director of the nation’s fire service.
He said the victims suffocated after rushing into a stairwell and becoming overwhelmed by “toxic smoke from burned acrylic clothing”.
Local police chief Khalilur Rahman said the fire killed eight people including the owner, his four staff, a senior police officer, a low-level police official and an eighth person not yet identified.
Rahman said there were no workers in the factory when the blaze broke out some time after 11:30 p.m. “Only the owner, his staff and his friends were there on an upper floor.”
Tung Hai said on its Face-book page that British low-cost chain Primark was among its customers along with Spain’s Inditex, the parent group of the Zara brand.
The fire comes as more bodies were found in the ruins of the nine-story Rana Plaza garment factory complex that caved in on April 24 when more than 3,000 workers were on shift.
Over 100 more bodies were recovered overnight, bringing the confirmed death toll to 921, according to the Army.
Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest apparel maker and the US$20 billion industry accounted for up to 80 percent of annual exports last year.