Eight dead in Bangladesh garment factory blaze

The BBC's Masud Khan in Dhaka: "It has become a real headache for the government as to how to enforce the safety standards"

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A fire in a garment factory in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has killed at least eight people, police say.

Officials said the blaze happened overnight in the Mirpur industrial district.

It came with the issue of industrial safety in Bangladesh under intense scrutiny after the collapse of an eight-storey building last month.

On Thursday officials confirmed that at least 912 people had died in that disaster.

Reports suggested that a police officer and the owner of the factory were among the eight killed in Wednesday's blaze.

They were believed to be holding a meeting in the 11-storey building, which belongs to garment exporter Tung Hai Group, when the fire broke out.

"It was a big fire but we managed to confine it on one floor," Mahbubur Rahman, operations director of Bangladesh's fire service, told AFP news agency.

The victims had suffocated after becoming overwhelmed by "toxic smoke from burnt acrylic clothing", he said.

Fire officials said it took around two hours to tame the blaze.

Most of the workers had already gone home when the fire started, reports said.

"It is not clear to us how the accident happened, but we are trying to find out the cause," Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Reuters news agency.

'Regulations ignored'

Two weeks ago Bangladesh was hit by its biggest industrial disaster, with the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on 24 April, which provoked outrage among workers.

Mohammad Sohel Rana, the owner of the Rana Plaza building, is escorted to court by police

The search for bodies is continuing at the complex, where there were several garment factories.

Officials say about 2,500 people were injured in the collapse and 2,437 people were rescued.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh announced a shutdown of 18 garment factories for safety reasons.

"We have seen that those who claim to be the best compliant factories in Bangladesh have not fully abided by building regulations," the Bangladeshi textile minister, Abdul Latif Siddique, told reporters.

Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world, and some clothes produced in the Rana Plaza building were made for Western retailers.

The industry employs about four million people and contributes almost 80% of the country's annual exports. However, it has faced criticism over low pay and the often dangerous working conditions in factories.

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