Tens of thousands of Bangladeshi clothes-makers filled the streets of Dhaka today to demand justice for the 112 workers killed when a fire gutted the Tazreen Fashions factory on Saturday.
They called for better safety in factories where bosses routinely avoid safety measures in order to keep the price of goods they produce for European markets low.
There were no emergency exits at the Tazreen factory.
Bangladesh Garment Workers Federation general secretary Tahmina Rahman called on the government to work harder to punish factory owners for poor safety.
"The owners go unpunished and so they don't care about installing enough security facilities," she said. "The owners should be held responsible and sent to jail."
Some 200 clothing factories closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, a suburb of the capital.
Protesters blocked a motorway and some threw stones at factories and smashed vehicles.
Fire department Major Mohammad Mahbub said they think a short circuit sparked the Tazreen blaze.
But it was the lack of safety measures in the seven-storey building that made the fire so deadly.
"Had there been at least one emergency exit outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower," he said.
Survivors painted a grim picture of neglect of basic safety measures prior to the blaze that killed the 112 people who were trapped inside or jumped to their deaths in desperation.
They said managers ignored fire alarms, locked exit doors and kept non-working fire extinguishers around "just to impress" inspectors.
Survivor Mohammad Ripu said that he had tried to run out of the building when the fire alarm rang but was stopped.
He said managers told the workers that the alarm was out of order and ordered them back to work.
"But we quickly understood that there was a fire.
"As we again ran for the exit we found it locked from outside and it was too late."
He escaped by jumping from a second-floor window.
Another fire broke out today in a 12-storey building housing four garment factories.
But no casualties were reported after rescue teams searched the building for workers feared to have suffocated in toxic black fumes.
"Most workers broke grilles in the upper floor and escaped to a safe location at an adjacent building," said deputy police commissioner Nisharul Arif.
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