Bangladesh garment industry

Charged owners of Bangladesh factory where 112 workers died surrender

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 2:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 6:35am

Two owners of a Bangladesh garment factory where 112 workers died in a fire two years ago have surrendered and sought bail after they were charged with murder.

The factory outside the capital, Dhaka, which produced clothing for big Western retailers, had no emergency exits and its location in an alley stopped firefighters from responding quickly to the deadly blaze in November 2012, a prosecutor said.

The investigation found that when the fire broke out, managers and security guards told workers it was part of a regular drill and it was too late for many to escape. Workers found the gates locked from outside as the fire engulfed the sprawling building, the investigation said.

The two owners of Tazreen Fashions - Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter - appeared in court for a hearing late yesterday. They are among 13 people facing charges in the case, one of several deadly disasters that have exposed harsh and unsafe working conditions in Bangladesh's garment industry. A factory collapse in April last year killed more than 1,100 workers.

The impoverished South Asian nation earns more than US$20 billion a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.

It is the first time that Bangladesh has sought to prosecute factory owners in the lucrative garment industry, which is the world's second largest after China.