Eight people were arrested by Bangladeshi police on Saturday for murder in connection to a factory fire which claimed the lives of at least 52 people. A senior police official stated that many of them were trapped in an illegally locked door.
The fire broke out at the factory of Hashem Foods Ltd. in Rupganj on Thursday night. It sent huge black smoke clouds into the sky. After the fire had been extinguished, police discovered bodies in piles.
Jayedul Alam (police superintendent for Narayanganj) told The Associated Press via phone that they had arrested them on murder charges. They are now in our custody.”
Asaduzzman Khan, Home Minister, stated that the managing director of Sajeeb Group (which owns the factory) was among those being detained.
Although the minister didn’t provide any further information, he said that those responsible would face punishment.
Khan said to reporters, “It’s murder,” as he visited factory site Saturday.
A court in Dhaka had allowed all eight suspects to remain with the police for four days, until Saturday night.
Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters. There have been many instances when factories caught fire and workers were trapped. Tens of thousands of workers are employed by low-paid international brands in Bangladesh. They have been under intense pressure to improve their factory conditions.
Similar cases have led to factory owners being charged with culpable murder for negligence. It is illegal for factories to lock their exits during production hours.
According to a Fire Service and Civil Defense official, the main exit from the factory that caught on fire Thursday morning was locked from the inside. Many of those who perished were also trapped.
Rima Akter (23 years old) was one of them. She made desperate calls to her family when the factory caught fire.
Her mother and other relatives struggled Saturday to identify the remains of the young woman in the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue.
Arafat Rahman, her brother-in law, said that they had checked 36 bags of body material but it was difficult to identify her.
Josna Begum’s mother wept as officials tried to assure the families gathered outside that their loved ones would be returned after DNA testing were complete. Officials at the hospital stated that DNA samples were taken from the relatives of victims to help identify the deceased. By Saturday afternoon, samples from 33 of them had been collected.
“My daughter worked hard to pay for her education. She took online courses and passed exams. Josna Begum stated, “I have no one in the world…what is there for me to do?”