Police Arrest Bangladesh Factory Officials

Posted November 28th, 2012 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested three factory officials in connection with a fire Saturday that killed at least 110 people.

The police chief in the capital, Dhaka, said the officials were arrested Wednesday amid allegations that managers told employees to return to work after fire alarms rang, and that locked doors trapped workers inside.

Hundreds of workers were unable to get out of the Tazreen Fashion factory as the fire burned. Fire officials say a lack of emergency exits contributed to the number of deaths.

Thousands of workers protested for a third day Wednesday, blocking streets and throwing stones at buildings. Riot police had to use tear gas and batons to control the crowds.

An Associated Press reporter searching the ruins of the factory Wednesday found the charred remains of clothing bearing major American and European brands, including Walmart's Faded Glory and Teddy Smith, and brands owned by hip-hop star Sean Combs. There also were account books containing entries for orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western companies.

Bangladesh has about 4,000 garment factories that make clothes for international brands. The country earns about $20 billion annually from overseas clothing sales, roughly 80 percent of its exports.

Work conditions at the country's garment factories are notoriously poor. Officials say at least 500 people have died in Bangladesh in garment factory accidents and fires since 2006. Activists say plant owners are rarely prosecuted for poor safety conditions.