Bangladeshi police arrested eight people on Saturday on charges of murder related to a factory fire that killed at least 52 people, many of whom were trapped in illegally locked doors, police officials said.
The flames began Thursday night at the five-story Hashem Foods Ltd. factory in Rupganji, just outside the capital Dhaka, with huge clouds of black smoke swirling in the sky. Police found a pile of bodies on Friday afternoon after the fire went out.
“We arrested them on murder charges,” Jaydur Alam, police chief of the Narayanganj district, told The Associated Press by phone. “They are now under our control.”
Interior Minister Asaduzman Khan said some of the detainees were managing directors of the Sajib Group, which owns the factory.
The minister did not provide further details, but said the responsible person would be punished.
“It’s a murder,” Khan told reporters when he visited the factory on Saturday.
By Saturday night, a court in Dhaka allowed all eight suspects to be detained by police for four days for cross-examination.
Bangladesh has a tragic history of industrial disasters, including a factory igniting with workers trapped. A major international brand that employs tens of thousands of low-wage workers in Bangladesh is under great pressure to improve the condition of its factories.
In a similar case, the factory owner is charged with murder for negligence and it is illegal for the factory to lock the exit while the worker is inside during production hours.
The factory’s main exit, which ignited on Thursday, was locked from the inside, fire departments and civil defense officials said, and many of the dead were trapped.
One of them was a 23-year-old Lima Actor. He desperately called his family when the fire swallowed the factory.
On Saturday, her mother and other family members had a hard time identifying the body of a young woman in the morgue at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
“We checked 36 body bags, but it’s very difficult to identify her,” said her brother-in-law, Arafat Rahman.
Her mother, Josna Begum, cried when she tried to reassure some families waiting outside the hospital that their loved ones would be returned when the DNA test was completed. Forensic experts worked to identify the dead by taking DNA samples from the victims’ families, and by late Saturday afternoon, samples had been collected from 33 dead, hospital officials said.
“My daughter worked to cover her education. She was attending online classes and exams. I have no one in the world … what should I do now? Do you have any left? “Josna Begum said.
Prova Berman, the father of Compa Lani Berman, who died in the fire, spoke to reporters in front of the factory on Saturday.
“My daughter’s body was found here. She was on the third floor. The director trapped many girls, including my daughter, during the fire. Many girls after the gate was locked. Couldn’t escape, “he said.
The Bangladesh Union News Agency reported on Friday that other workers jumped off the upper floors, injuring at least 26 people.
The factory is a subsidiary of Sajeeb Group, a Bangladeshi company that produces juice under Shezan International Ltd, based in Lahore, Pakistan. According to the group’s website, the company exports products to many countries, including Australia, the United States, Malaysia and Singapore. , India, Bhutan, Nepal, and countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Despite the rapid economic growth of South Asian countries, corruption and loose execution have resulted in many deaths over the years.
In 2012, about 117 workers were killed when trapped behind a locked exit in a garment factory in Dhaka.
The following year, the building that housed five garment factories collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and making it the worst industrial disaster in the country.
Investigators initially said that those accused of misconduct would be charged with the murder of a suspect with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. They later changed to murder because of the seriousness of the disaster.
However, strong factory owners often take advantage of the slow pace of the legal system and have been dragging the process for years. The murders of the 2013 factory collapse are still ongoing.
This tragedy has caused stricter safety rules in the garment industry, but many other sectors have failed to maintain safety standards and the disaster continues.
In February 2019, at least 67 people were killed in a blazing fire in a cramped 400-year-old area of apartments, shops and warehouses in Dhaka’s oldest area.