Factory fire that killed 117 in Bangladesh confirmed as arson


A fire at a garment factory last month that left 117 people dead was caused by arsonists and exacerbated by managers at the plant preventing people from escaping, an official inquiry found yesterday.

Main Uddin Khandaker told the AFP news agency that the factory owners should face murder charges for gross negligence. "There was… gross negligence on the part of the owner. We have suggested legal action against him and nine of his mid-level managers who barred the workers from leaving the burning factory," he said. The owner of the plant, Delwar Hossain, told reporters after the blaze that he believed it was started deliberately, but gave no details.

Mr Khandaker confirmed yesterday that the fire was started on purpose. "We have found that the fire that gutted Tazreen Fashion factory in Ashulia was an act of sabotage. The statements of the witnesses revealed that it was an act of sabotage. There was no possibility of the fire originating due to an electric short-circuit or any other reason," he said. There were no further details about who the inquiry team thought had started the fire, or why. The fire quickly spread throughout the whole nine floors of the factory, with large amounts of fabric catching alight.

Investigators have said the factory, which made clothing for Western retailers such as Walmart, lacked a valid safety licence and only had permission to operate on three floors.