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112 killed in fire at Bangladesh garment factory

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published November 24, 2012 at 12:51 p.m. Updated November 25, 2012 at 1:04 p.m.

— At least 112 people were killed in a fire that raced through a multi-story garment factory just outside of Bangladesh’s capital, an official said Sunday.

The blaze broke out at the seven-story factory operated by Tazreen Fashions late Saturday. By Sunday morning, firefighters had recovered 100 bodies, fire department Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub told The Associated Press.

He said another 12 people who had suffered injuries after jumping from the building to escape the fire later died at hospitals. The death toll could rise as the search for victims was continuing, he said.

Local media reported that up to 124 people were killed in the fire. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, and authorities have ordered an investigation.

Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.

Mahbub said firefighters recovered 69 bodies from the second floor of the factory alone. He said most of the victims had been trapped inside the factory, located just outside of Dhaka, with no emergency exits leading outside the building.

Many workers who had taken shelter on the roof of the factory were rescued, but firefighters were unable to save those who were trapped inside, Mahbub said.

He said the fire broke out on the ground floor, which was used as a warehouse, and spread quickly to the upper floors.

Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition. The recovered bodies were kept in rows on the premise of a nearby school.

Army soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed to help police keep the situation under control as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered at the scene, Mahbub said. He would not say how many people were still missing.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said it would stand by the victims’ families.

Bangladesh’s garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.

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