Today on 26 January 2013, a deadly fire broke out at Smart Export Garments Limited, a subcontracting RMG factory located on the upper floor of a two-storey building of the Mohammadpur area of Dhaka City.
Our reports confirm 10 dead (all female), and 35 injured. Cause of death and injury is stampede toward the single exit, however no injury or death caused directly due to fire.
Fire started at 1pm, workers could smell it before going to lunch area. The source of the fire is yet to be determined, some workers say it was a boiler that burst, while others say it was a gas leakage, however, as there was a tyre repair and wielding workshop downstairs so officials say that the fire could have started from this point.
Nothing in the factory could be saved from the fire as everything inside had been reported to have been burned badly. The worst damages have been caused on the upper storey of the building (where the main operations of the factory took place).
As per our sources, the fire was said to have started in the storage unit storing extra cloth pieces.
Fire spread in the unit until fire fighters doused the flames in the evening at 6 pm.
New Information (27 January, 2013): The factory was not legally registered. It maintained no standards of safety, its focus was always on “cost cutting”, it eventually came at the expense of lives lost and injuries.
The factory hired workers without a proper contract.
The guards were out having lunch when the fire started in the store room. There were no replacement guards. The fire started during lunch time, no one was present to react at the scene of the incident.
The fire exit was jam locked with shutter gates being tied with large locks and chains. The windows were broken by hammers by workers so that they could escape with their lives.
The factory was mainly engaged in doing work for some of the renowned European and US brands through getting the work as a subcontractor from their main supplier factory at Dhaka.
Smart Export Garments Limited at a glimpse:
- Total work force: 350
- 2 storey building- the upper floor and parts of the ground floor were used by the RMG factory.
- Subcontracting jobs were done here.
- The factory is owned by 5 owners who have other factories which act as “main contractors”.
- A lot of child labour in the factory.
- No one was allowed to enter the factory after the blaze was out.
- Two MPs were present during the blaze to support the actions to put it out. Other union leaders were there.
- Some injured workers were taken to Bongobondhu Medical College and Hospital and some to Shikder Medical.
- 6 workers out of the ten dead were dead already at the factory premise before being taken to the doctor.
- Poor safety precautions, fire exit remained jam-locked.
We will continue updating this page as we have more news pouring in.
The RISE team.