Top brands linked to deadly blaze at Bangladesh garment factory
The unlicensed garment factory in the Bangladesh capital where seven women workers died in a fire on Saturday was making clothing for Spanish giant Inditex and several French brands.
Among the charred remains of the Smart Export factory were labels such as Bershka, a retailer owned by Inditex; Sol's; Scott and Fox; and G Blog, which is part of France's Gemo.
Sourcing by global retailers first came under the spotlight just two months ago, after Bangladesh's deadliest garment factory fire killed 111 workers who were making clothing for Walmart and a variety of Western firms.
The November blaze at Tazreen Fashion, which also had no fire department licence, highlighted the Bangladeshi apparel industry's appalling safety record.
The fire at the Smart factory employing around 300 workers broke out Saturday afternoon, leaving at least seven female workers dead and 15 injured - five of them critically.
Worker Laizu Begum said the factory, which paid workers as little as US$37 a month, had one of its doors closed when the blaze broke out during lunch break, forcing the workers to rush to the other door in a stampede.
Fire officials said the stampede caused most of the deaths.
"Burnt foam and clothing created huge smoke. I survived as I was sitting close to a gate," Begum said.
Major Mahbubur Rahman, operations director of the Bangladesh Fire Service, said the factory had not received an operating licence from the service.
"It's just a factory in name," he said. "The owners set up some sewing machines on a floor without taking care of any safety issues. It did not have any fire exit or fire equipment."