Eight dead in new Bangladesh factory accident

Eight dead in new Bangladesh factory accident

A fire tore through an 11-storey building housing a clothes factory and residential complex in Bangladesh's capital, killing at least eight people, including the owner.

The fire comes just two weeks after a building housing clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh, killing at least 892 people, again raising concerns about safety measures in the country's €10bn garment industry.

In November, a fire at another factory killed 112 people.

Fire brigade officials said the latest blaze broke out last night and by early today, crews had found eight people dead, including a police officer and the factory's managing director.

The fire started not long after up to 300 workers at the Tung Hai Sweater factory went home for the day, fire official Nazrul Islam said.

It burned parts of the first and second floors, which housed the factory, and parts of the third, which housed apartments.

It was not immediately clear how many of the dead were tenants of the building.

Bhajan Kumar Sarkar, another fire official, said the managing director of the factory, Mahbubur Rahman, and a police official were among the dead. All the dead had been found in the stairwell.

Mr Sarkar said it took more than three hours to bring the blaze under control.

Meanwhile the death toll from the April 24 blaze - the worst garment manufacturing disaster in the world - climbed to nearly 900 today as authorities continued to search for more bodies.

Police said 892 bodies had been recovered from the rubble of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in a suburb of Dhaka.

Dozens of bodies recovered yesterday were so decomposed they were being sent to a lab for DNA identification, police said.

Following protests, authorities also began paying salaries and other benefits to survivors.

The European Union's delegation to Bangladesh urged the government to "act immediately" to improve working conditions and authorities said the government had closed 18 clothes factories in recent days for failing to meet work and safety standards.

There is no clear indication of how many bodies still remain trapped in the debris because the exact number of people inside the building at the time of the collapse is unknown. More than 2,500 people were rescued alive.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association earlier said 3,122 workers were employed at the five factories housed in the building, but it was not clear how many were there during the packed morning shift when it collapsed. Several stores and a bank were also in the building.

Ratings agency Moody's said clothing factory disasters in Bangladesh and frequent, increasingly violent strikes posed risks to the country's credit rating.

It said political tension was damaging confidence in Bangladesh, which has a rating below investment grade.

A general strike was called earlier this week by opposition political parties to protest at the deaths of at least 29 people during street demonstrations.

Investor confidence in Bangladesh also dropped after the deadly factory blaze two weeks ago

Moody's says "continued political tensions are credit negative because they may further damage investor confidence in Bangladesh against the background of recurrent industrial disasters in the ready-made garment sector".

Bangladesh's rating from Moody's is Ba3, three notches below the lowest investment grade rating.

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