The garment factory in Bangladesh where a blaze left 112 workers dead had not been able to renew its fire certificate because of safety concerns.
The certificate for the Tazreen factory in Dhaka, which produced clothes for Western labels including Wal-Mart, Disney and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, expired in June, a fire safety official said. It was not renewed because officials were concerned the building did not have adequate safety provisions.
"I can't explain more because the case is very sensitive and this is under investigation," a fire official told the Associated Press.
The fire on 24 November that swept through the factory, owned and operated by the Tuba group of companies, took 13 hours to control. Survivors said exit doors were locked and extinguishers did not work. Many of those who escaped the blaze saved their lives by breaking windows and jumping from upper floors. Many suffered serious injuries. The factory employed about 1,400 workers.
The Bangladeshi fire official told the AP that when a factory lost its certification, the department usually gave it time to address the concerns. If it failed to do so, the factory may face legal proceedings. In reality, that rarely happened.
The owner of the factory had permission to build only a three-storey facility, but had extended it to eight levels illegally. He was planning to add a ninth when the fire struck.