The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently “meant just to impress” inspectors and customers.
That is the picture survivors paint of the Tazreen garment-factory fire Saturday that killed 112 people who were trapped inside or jumped to their deaths in desperation. For Bangladesh, where such factories commonly ignore safety as they rush to produce for retailers around the world, the tragedy was unusual only in scope: More than 200 people have died in garment-factory fires in the country since 2006.
About 15,000 Bangladeshi workers protested blocks from the gutted fire Monday, demanding justice for the victims and improved safety. Some 200 factories were closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, the capital.
Protesters blocked a major highway, and some threw stones at factories and smashed vehicles, but there were no arrests and no clashes with police.
Maj. Mohammad Mahbub, fire department operations director, said investigators suspect that a short circuit caused the fire at the factory, which was making T-shirts and polo shirts.
But Mahbub said it was not the fire itself but the lack of safety measures in the eight-story building that made the blaze so deadly.