DHAKA, Bangladesh — At least 100 people were killed as a fire sweptÂ through a garment factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital, the chief ofÂ the fire brigade said Sunday.
The fire at the nine-story factory inÂ the Ashulia industrial belt started on the ground floor late Saturday andÂ quickly spread, trapping hundreds of workers.
“So far, the confirmed death toll is 109, including nine who died by jumpingÂ from the building,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of the fire brigade, toldÂ Reuters.
However, other sources earlier said the toll could be much higher. Abu Nayeem MohammadÂ Shahidullah, director general of the fire brigade, told Reuters 120 bodies had been recovered. It was not clear if his count had been revised.
Fire department Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub told The Associated Press that the nine-story factory was operated by Tazreen Fashions.Witnesses said the workers, mostly women, ran for safety as the fire engulfedÂ the plant, but were unable to come out through narrow exits.
“ManyÂ jumped out from the windows and were injured, or died on the spot,” said Milon, aÂ resident. “We are appalled to see the charred bodies coming out of the factory since last night. It was an endless stream.”
Mahbub said army soldiers and border guards had been deployed to help policeÂ keep the situation under control as thousands of anxious relatives of theÂ factory workers gathered at the scene.
Bangladesh has around 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for suchÂ brands as Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer,Â Kohl’s and Carrefour.
Bangladesh is the world’s biggest exporter of clothing after China, withÂ garments making up 80 percent of its $24 billion annual exports.
ButÂ safety standards at the factories are poor and not enforced strictly, causingÂ scores of accidents each year.
Saturday’s fire was the worst in years, and rescuers andÂ police said the death count may surpass any previous toll.
Source: NBC News