Dhaka, Bangladesh — A massive factory fire on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, has killed at least 120 workers and took firefighters five hours to put out.
The fire started on the ground floor of the nine-storey building, which is operated by Tazreen Fashions in the Ashulia industrial area, reports Al Jazeera.
The blaze was started on Saturday night and workers on the ground floor fled to the roof as the blaze spread, causing them to be trapped.
Many victims of the factory fire died after jumping from the building to escape the flames. Witnesses have said that the death toll will likely rise even higher.
Authorities say that the fire was caused by a bad electrical circuit. Reporter Nicolas Haque stated:
“There’s an investigation underway to try to find out [exactly] what caused this accident.”
Haque added that similar accidents are a regular occurrence. More than 600 people have been killed in Bangladesh since 2006 because of fires and lack of safety standards in crowded factories.
The regions has about 4,500 garment factories like the one that was burned on Saturday night. They make clothes for brands like Tesco, WalMart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s, and Carrefour.
Haque added that labor groups he spoke with claimed factories “are simply not equipped to the safety standards that are required to meet the demands of Western brands. He explained:
“If you speak to garment managers, they say that they are under pressure to produce as much clothes as possible with the least amount of money. And so they say in these circumstances, safety isn’t always the priority.”
CNN notes that about 2,000 people were working in the factory at the time of the fire and it is not yet clear how many of them were rescued. The blaze is the worst factory fire the country has ever seen.
The fire department noted that rescue operations are difficult because the factory was full or fabrics, yarn, and cotton. Firefighters have been unable to enter some floors of the building, so they believe the death toll will still rise.
Hundreds of people waited anxiously outside the factory in search of their relatives and friends. One woman, Bilkis Akhter, was searching for her teenage daughter, Munni Akhter. She already searched the hospitals and police stations, but had not yet located the teenage factory worker, who was on the fourth floor when the fire broke out.