The owner of a Bangladeshi food factory whose fire on Friday (July 9) killed 52 people was arrested on Saturday for manslaughter, police said, as it became known that the factory was also employing children from 11 years old. In addition to the owner of the company Hashem Food and Beverage, seven other people were arrested, including four of his sons, after the fire which lasted more than twenty-four hours and also left about thirty people injured, police said.
A separate investigation will be held into the employment of children in this factory in Rupganj, an industrial town near Dhaka, which produced sweets, noodles and fruit juices, among other things, she added. According to the local police chief, Jayedul Alam, the entrance to the factory was locked at the time of the fire, and many points of the safety regulations were not respected. “It’s deliberate murder”, he declared to the AFP.
Children worked in the factory
The rescue services found 48 bodies on the third floor, the door to the main staircase of which was locked, according to the firefighter spokesman. Highly flammable chemicals and plastics were also stored in the building.
Labor Minister Monnujan Sufian also said an investigation had been opened into the employment of children at the factory, and told AFP that she spoke to two elderly fire survivors at the hospital. 14-year-old, and to a woman whose 11-year-old child, who worked in the factory, was currently missing.
Bangladesh had promised reforms to working conditions in factories after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, when a nine-story site collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. But the fires and other fatal accidents did not end. In February 2019, 70 people died in a fire caused by chemicals illegally stored in apartments.