Factory owners arrested after fatal fire

Dhaka -

Two owners of a Bangladesh garment factory where a weekend fire killed seven workers were arrested on charges of negligence, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

File photo: A Bangladeshi climbs a wall to get to the roof of a two-storied garment factory that caught fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: AP

Zakir Ahmed, chairman of the Smart Export Garment factory in Dhaka, and Mohammad Sharif Ahmed, its managing director, were detained on Tuesday night in the capital and accused of failing to comply with fire safety regulations, said Gazi Rabiul Islam, an assistant commissioner of police.

A fire broke out on Saturday at the factory, killing seven workers and injuring 15. Altaf Hossain, the father of one of the victims, filed a complaint with police charging that an emergency gate was locked when the fire broke out.

About 500 people were working on the first floor of the three-storey building when the fire broke out at the factory, which lacked a safety certificate, fire officials said.

Police were seeking to arrest a third owner and were considering charges against the remaining two owners.

The suspects would be questioned first to determine whether additional charges, including murder, would be filed, said Mollah Nazrul Islam, deputy commissioner of police.

The factory made clothing for international retailers, including Bershka and Lefties of Spain's Inditex Group, Sol's and Scott & Fox of France.

In November, 112 workers were killed in a fire at another garment factory in Dhaka, which raised questions about the safety of Bangladeshi factories.

The garment industry accounts for nearly 79 per cent of Bangladesh's 24 billion dollars in export earnings. Most of its products go to Europe and the United States. - Sapa-dpa