Bangladesh fire: 10 deadly disasters for workers in South Asia

by Md. Tahmid Zami and Annie Banerji | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 7 June 2022 15:26 GMT

Firefighters carry a dead body from the spot after a massive fire broke out in an inland container depot at Sitakunda, near the port city Chittagong, Bangladesh, June 5, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

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At least nine firefighters were among the dead at the container depot, near the port city of Chittagong, where one official said safety guidelines had not been followed.

A massive fire at a container depot in Bangladesh, which killed at least 43 people, is the latest in a string of deadly incidents to affect workers across South Asia.

Here are 10 of the worst accidents from the last decade that highlight the perils of manual labour in the region, where blazes and accidents are often blamed on lack of safety measures and lax inspection by government officials:

1) EXPLOSION IN INDIAN ELECTRONICS FACTORY

At least 10 people were killed and 22 injured in a chemicals explosion at an electronics factory in northern India's Hapur district on Saturday.

2) INDIAN CHEMICAL FACTORY EXPLOSION

At least six workers were killed and a dozen injured in an explosion in a chemical making factory in the Andhra Pradesh's Krishna district in April.

3) FIRE IN BANGLADESH JUICE FACTORY

A massive fire raged through a six-storey juice-making factory in Bangladesh in July 2021, killing more than 50 workers. The flames forced people to jump from the building's upper floors in Narayanganj, near the capital, Dhaka.

4) FIRE AT INDIAN CHEMICAL PLANT

A fire killed 18 people in June 2021 at a chemical plant that made products including hand sanitizers in the western Indian city of Pune.

5) DELHI TOY FACTORY FIRE

A fire ripped through a New Delhi factory in 2019, killing at least 43 workers. The blaze at a building housing workers making school bags and toys was blamed on a lack of workplace safety.

6) BANGLADESH FOOD FACTORY FIRE

A fire at a food- and cigarette-packing factory in Dhaka killed 39 people in 2016.

7) PAKISTAN BAG FACTORY COLLAPSE

Forty-four people died when a Pakistani plastic bag factory collapsed in Lahore in 2015. Survivors said the owner added a new floor to the building and ignored advice to stop construction after cracks appeared following an earthquake.

Relatives of victims who were killed or went missing in the collapse of Rana Plaza gather at the site on the first year anniversary of the accident in Savar April 24, 2014. Protesters and family members of victims demand compensation on the one year anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza, in which more than 1,100 factory workers were killed and 2,500 others were injured. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

8) RANA PLAZA DISASTER IN BANGLADESH

A factory built on swampy ground near Bangladesh's capital collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,000 people, mostly women producing clothes for Western labels. Workers had complained about cracks in the eight-storey building.

It was the garment industry's deadliest recorded incident and put pressure on global brands to improve factory conditions.

9) PAKISTAN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE

In 2012, nearly 300 people were killed in a fire at a garment factory in Pakistan's commercial capital of Karachi. According to investigations, emergency exits were blocked.

10) BANGLADESH GARMENT FACTORY BLAZE

A fire that tore through a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka in late 2012 killed 112 workers, mostly women. Survivors said factory managers prevented workers fleeing the multi-storey building when the fire alarm went off.

Sources: Reuters, International Labour Organization, Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

This article was updated on June 7 to include the latest three disasters.

(Reporting by Md. Tahmid Zami and Annie Banerji; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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