Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

December 18, 2012

Bangladesh factory fire probe: Sabotage

Panel said owner should be punished for worker neglect

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A Bangladesh government committee investigating the garment factory fire that killed 112 people last month said in its findings Monday 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 investigations are continuing.

Khandaker, an official with the Ministry of Home Affairs, told The Associated Press that committee members believe some people who worked at the factory 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.

Three factory officials suspected of locking workers inside the building were arrested days after the fire and remain in custody.

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