DHAKA, Bangladesh — Dozens of people were killed yesterday when a devastating blaze raced through a garment factory near Bangladesh’s capital that supplies major multinationals such as Gap and JCPenney.
The dead included many trapped workers who jumped from the smoldering building engulfed by flames, witnesses at the scene said.
Fire official Golam Mostafa said the fire started in a 10-story factory just outside Dhaka owned by a local business giant, Ha-Meem Group. It was not clear what caused the blaze, and the government ordered an investigation.
Interior Minister Shahara Khatun said after visiting the site that her ministry would probe whether it was related to recent violent protests at textile factories over wages.
Monir Hossain, a local journalist at the scene, said the blaze broke out on the two upper floors during lunch break. A gate on a stairwell was locked, trapping people inside the factory, which mainly produces T-shirts for international brands, he quoted witnesses as saying.
Another journalist, Rafiqul Islam, said he saw at least 25 bodies being loaded onto ambulances.