112 workers died in the factory that was producing clothes for Walmart and other Western retailers was originally attributed to an electric short-circuit, an official investigation ruled that the fire was deliberately started. Main Uddin Khandaker, who led the investigation, told the AFP “The statements of the witnesses revealed that it was an act of sabotage. There was no possibility of the fire originating due to an electric short-circuit or any other reason.” However, it is still unclear who was behind the act. In addition to being a deliberate act, the investigation determined that up to nine officials prevented workers from leaving the building and even padlocked exits.
The investigation also found severe evidence of negligence on behalf of the factory owner, Delwar Hossain. Hossain had originally denied that the factory was unsafe, however the factory’s fire certificate had expired before the fire. In addition, the building only had permission to be three stories high but was in fact nine and lacked sufficient emergency exits. According to Khandaker, “There was also gross negligence on the part of the owner. We have suggested legal action against him and nine of his mid-level managers who barred the workers from leaving the burning factory.”
Media Resources: AFP 12/17/12; BBC 12/17/12; Washington Post 12/17/12
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