December 18, 2012

Garment factory blaze was sabotage, panel says

A government committee still blames the plant's owner for ignoring safety rules, and suspects some employees were involved.

The Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A Bangladesh government committee investigating the garment factory fire that killed 112 people last month said in its findings that the blaze was sabotage, probably by someone who worked there.

But the panel said that no matter who set the fire, the owner of the factory also should be punished for the deaths because he neglected worker safety.

"If someone is responsible for such a huge number of deaths, that's him. He has failed to ensure safety," committee head Mainuddin Khandaker said of factory owner Delwar Hossain.

Some government and garment industry officials had alleged soon after the Nov. 24 fire that it was an act of sabotage, though a fire official said casualties would have been greatly reduced if the factory had followed safety rules.

The factory lacked emergency exits and Hossain has said only three floors of the eight-story building were legally built. Surviving employees said gates had been locked and managers had told them to go back to work after the fire alarm went off.

The four-member committee submitted its report to the government Monday. At least two other probes are continuing.

Khandaker, an official with the Ministry of Home Affairs, said committee members believe some factory employees were involved in the sabotage. "Otherwise, how come they locked the gates? How come they asked the workers to go back to work even after the fire alarm?" he said.

 

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