A factory fire in Bangladesh that took the lives of 111 workers was caused by “an act of sabotage,” according to an announcement by authorities.
The fire has set off a mass of protests with factories workers across the country have taken to the streets for a second day to express their anger and mourning over the tragedy, reports Al Jazeera.
The country’s interior minister, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, stated on Tuesday that a preliminary inquiry into the fire revealed it was caused by arson. Alamgir stated:
“We have come to the conclusion that it was an act of sabotage. We are finding out as of now who exactly the saboteurs are and all culprits will be brought to book.”
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated earlier that she suspected the fire was set on purpose, but she didn’t identify why she came to the conclusion or who may be responsible.
The factory fire in Bangladesh has also brought the spotlight on global retailers that source their clothing to Bangladesh. The labor in the country is low (sometimes as little as $37 per month) and the notice has spurred rights groups to call on big-brand firms to sign up to a fire-safety program, according to NBC News.
A company that has worked with the factory and supplies some US clothing firms, stated on Sunday that it will provide victims’ families with about $1,200 each as compensation for the fire. The company, Li & Fung, added that the company is “very distressed and saddened by the deaths.”
Several retailers have rushed to deny any affiliation with the burned factory, including Gap and Nike. WalMart also made an announcement that one of its suppliers had subcontracted work to the factory without authorization. They stated the supplier will no longer be used.
Factories like the one that burned are common in the country. Working conditions at the factories are notoriously bad, with little to no enforcement of safety laws. It is common for a factory to have overcrowding and locked fire doors. All of the country’s garment factories closed for a day of mourning as flags flew at half-mast.