A fire swept through a two-story garment factory in Bangladesh's capital today, killing at least seven female workers and injuring another five, police and fire officials said. The fire at the Smart factory occurred just two months after a blaze killed 112 workers in another factory near the capital city, raising questions about safety standards and treatment of workers in Bangladesh's $20-billion garment industry that exports clothes to leading Western retailers. The country has more than 4,000 garment factories.
The cause of the latest fire was not immediately known, said a fire official. It took firefighters about two hours to bring today's blaze under control, noted a police officer. Volunteers joined firefighters in battling the blaze as a large crowd gathered outside the factory awaiting word on the fate of relatives. Family members were seen crying near the body of a female worker named Josna, who was only 16. Building fires have led to more than 600 garment work deaths in Bangladesh since 2005, according to research by a labor advocacy group. (Read more Bangladesh stories.)