Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills at Least 112 Workers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills at Least 112 Workers

Article excerpt

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Many of the victims of a fire that raced through a garment factory that supplies major retailers in the West, killing at least 112, were trapped by the flames because the eight- story building lacked emergency exits, an official said Sunday.

The blaze broke out late Saturday at a factory operated just outside Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which makes products for Wal-Mart and other companies in the U.S. and Europe.

Firefighters recovered at least 100 bodies from the factory, Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director, said. He said 12 other people who were injured after they jumped from the building to escape died at hospitals.

Local media reported that up to 124 people were killed. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, and authorities ordered an investigation.

Army soldiers and border guards were sent to help police keep order as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered, Maj. Mahbub said.

Tazreen was given a "high risk" safety rating after a May 16, 2011, audit conducted by an "ethical sourcing" assessor for Wal- Mart, according to a document posted on the Tuba Group's website. It did not specify what led to the rating.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said online documents indicating an orange or "high risk" assessment after the May 2011 inspection and a yellow or "medium risk" report after an inspection in August 2011 appeared to pertain to the factory where the fire broke out. The August 2011 letter said Wal-Mart would conduct another inspection within one year.

Mr. Gardner said it was not clear if that inspection had been conducted or whether the factory was still making products for Wal- Mart.

If a factory is rated "orange" three times in a two-year period, Wal-Mart won't place any orders for one year. …

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