At least eight people were killed in Bangladesh Thursday after an 11-story garment factory went up in flames. The fire was fueled by huge piles of acrylic products used to make sweaters. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene of the Tung Hai Sweater Ltd. Factory in the capital of Dhaka, the first few floors of the building were already engulfed in flames. Speaking to reporters, the deputy director of the fire service Mamun Mahmud described the occupants' desperate attempt to flee the building. "We recovered all of them on the stairwell on the ninth floor," he said. The deadly fire comes as the death toll from an eight-story building collapse in Dhaka passed 900 this week.
The identities of the victims of Wednesday's fire showed the entanglement of the industry and top Bangladeshi officials. The dead included the factory's managing director, Mahbubur Rahman, who was also on the board of directors of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Along with him was senior police official Z.A. Morshed and Sohel Mostafa Swapan, head of a local branch of the ruling party's youth league.
Independent TV, a local station, reported that Rahman had plans to contest next year's elections as a candidate for the ruling party and had been meeting friends to discuss his future when the fire broke out.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which began soon after the factory workers went home for the day and took three hours to bring under control. Mahmud speculated it might have originated in the factory's ironing section. Officials originally said the building also housed several floors of apartments, but later said it was just a factory.
The garment factory building collapse death toll has now climbed to 930 making the collapse of Rana Plaza the world's deadliest industrial accident since India's Bhopal disaster in 1984.