WalMart Fires Supplier After Bangladesh Factory Fire

By: From CNN
By: From CNN

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. put some distance Monday between it and the clothing factory in Bangladesh that caught fire over the weekend, killing more than 100 people.

The factory in question was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Wal-Mart, the company said.

"A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies. Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier," Wal-Mart said.

The clothing factory, housed in a multistory building near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, caught fire Saturday night. More than 100 people were killed and at least 200 were injured as they rushed to escape the factory in Ashulia, police said.

"How the factory caught fire, I don't know. But when we heard 'fire,' we all rushed out and we were trying to get out of the factory," said Parul Begum, a survivor.

"One factory worker broke a window and one of the workers pulled me through. After the fire, we tried to run out the door, but it was locked. When the floor (became) dark with smoke, the boys came to rescue me," she said.

Thousands of workers from dozens of clothing factories in Ashulia took to the streets Monday to protest the deaths of their colleagues. The protesters blocked traffic and demonstrated for several hours, demanding compensation and a full investigation into what happened.

The Bangladeshi government has ordered such an investigation, asking two committees to file reports within a week.

It has also announced a period of national mourning Tuesday for those killed at the factory and for the victims from a recent overpass collapse in southeastern Bangladesh.

All apparel factories will be closed Tuesday, and special prayers will be offered at mosques, churches and temples, the government said.
Even as Bangladesh prepared to mourn the deaths, firefighters battled a blaze at another apparel factory near Dhaka on Monday.

Police and witnesses said the latest fire, at a 10-story clothing factory in the suburb of Uttara, began Monday morning, and firefighters took about four hours to bring it under control.

"Firefighters have brought the flames under control, and no one died in the incident," Brigadier Gen. Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, told reporters.

Local police said at least 10 people were injured in Uttara as they jumped from windows to escape.

They said the fire began on the second floor, where a large quantity of fabric and yarn were stored, and it spread immediately to the fourth floor. Bangladesh's ready-made garments make up 80% of the country's $24 billion in annual exports.

The country has about 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for stores including Tesco, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's and Carrefour. The sector earned $19 billion this year as of June.

The state-run news agency Bangladesh, Sangbad Sangstha, recently reported that some 6,000 people die every year in fires in Bangladesh.

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