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Reports: Exit locked at burned Bangladesh factory

Garment workers look through burned remains inside the Smart Export Garment Ltd. factory where a fire claimed the lives of seven female workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.
January 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A fire raced through a garment factory in Bangladesh killing seven female workers and injuring five others.

The blaze erupted at the Smart Export Garment Ltd. factory in the Dhaka Garment District Saturday.

Doctors said most of the victims died from asphyxiation. At least 50 people were injured in a stampede as workers desperately tried to get out of the building after the fire erupted. Six were hospitalized with injuries.

Survivors of the fire told newspapers that some of the injured jumped out of the windows of the two-story factory.

No information on the cause of the fire has been released. But Bangladesh's government has ordered an investigation into allegations that the sole emergency exit was locked.

"When I tried to escape through the emergency exit I found the gate locked," Raushan Ara, a worker at the factory, was quoted as saying by Dhaka's Prothom Alo newspaper.

The deadly blaze comes just two months after a fire erupted in another nearby factory, killing 112 people last Nov. The factory was owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd. and supplied clothing to Wal-Mart and other retailers.

According to authorities, there were no emergency exits leading outside in the fatal fire.

The incident has raised questions about safety standards and treatment of workers. More than 4,000 garment factories in Bangladesh make up the nation's $20 billion garment industry which exports clothes to leading Western retailers.

According to the advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum, fires have led to more than 600 deaths of garment workers in Bangladesh since 2005.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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