REFILE-UPDATE 1-Key Bangladesh garments factory destroyed in blaze

Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:19am EST
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By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA Nov 29 (Reuters) - A devastating fire ripped through a Bangladesh garment factory supplying major Western retailers, police and industry officials said on Friday, in a blaze set by workers angered over rumours of a colleague's death in police firing.

Garments are a vital sector for the South Asian nation, whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world's largest apparel exporter after China.

But a series of deadly incidents, including a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in April, has sparked global concern over weak safety standards in the country's $22-billion garment industry.

There were no reports of casualties in Friday's fire, which gutted a ten-storey building at Gazipur, 40 km (25 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka.

But fire fighters were still battling to douse the fire in four nearby buildings, more than 15 hours after it had begun around midnight on Thursday, after workers finished for the day.

"We are still struggling to control the flames," said fire official Mahbubur Rahman, adding that 22 fire service and civil defence units been thrown into the fire-fighting operation.

At the scene, a Reuters photographer said burnt garments strewn on the floors bore brand names from U.S. retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc, Gap Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.   Continued...