Police have detained eight people over the fire, which broke out on Thursday and raged for two days at a factory not far from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. The owner of the factory, Abdul Hashem of Hashem Foods Ltd, and his four sons are among those arrested on charges of murder, AFP reported, citing police.
“It was a deliberate murder,” said Jayedul Alam, police chief for the Narayanganj district where the factory is located. A case has also been launched against the chairman of the factory’s parent company, Bangladesh’s multinational Sajeeb Group, according to local media.
Having battled the flames for two days, firefighters said they had discovered that several doors which should have allowed the workers to get to safety were padlocked. The exit door to the main staircase was locked, a fire services spokesman said, and one of the staircases leading to the rooftop was also closed, leaving workers trapped inside the burning building.
“The fire is everywhere, father. The gate is locked,” one of the factory’s senior operators said in a brief phone call from the burning building, local bdnews24 reported.
Claiming that multiple safety regulations were breached at the factory, fire service officials said that the building needed at least four to five emergency staircases, while only one was available. Nearly 200 workers were inside the factory when the fire erupted, an administrative officer told local media.
Most of the charred bodies were recovered from inside the factory, but several workers died jumping from the windows of the six-story building, desperate to escape. The bodies of those who died in the flames were burned so badly that DNA tests will be needed to identify them, police said.