The worst industrial disasters in Bangladesh since 2005

More than 2,000 workers and employees died in at least 26 factory fires over the last two decades till last July

In the latest workplace tragedy in Bangladesh, at least 49 people, including many firefighters, were killed and over 450 injured in a fire following a huge explosion at a container depot in Chittagong’s Sitakunda upazila late on Saturday night.

The death toll may rise further as many of the injured are still in a critical state. 

Fire service and the depot sources told reporters that they recovered a huge cache of chemicals, which hampered the rescue operation.

Lax enforcement of safety standards and unsafe working conditions in its factories makes fires a tragedy of the commons in the country, largely in the apparel sector which accounts for about 80% of the country’s exports.

At least 2,000 workers and other staff died in at least 26 blazes in factories over the past two decades, a news report suggested in July last year citing the International Labor Organisation.

Let’s take a look at some of the country’s worst industrial accidents since 2005. However, there was another major fire tragedy in the country in 2019 when at least 70 people lost their lives in Old Dhaka after a gas cylinder blast led to a massive fire in chemical warehouses there.

January 2005 – A fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka kills 22 people and injures more than 50.

April 2005 – At least 64 people are killed and about 100 injured when a garment factory building collapsed in Dhaka.

February 2006 – A garment factory building collapses in Dhaka killing 21 workers and injuring dozens.

February 2006 – A fire at a textile factory in the port city of Chittagong kills 65 workers and injures dozens.

February 2010 - A fire at a garment factory in a Dhaka suburb kills 21 workers and injures about 50.

December 2010 – A fire at a factory supplying global retailers kills 26 people and injures about 100 near Dhaka.

November 2012 - A fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory supplying western brands in Dhaka, kills 112 workers and injures more than 150. The blaze, believed to have been caused by a short circuit, was the deadliest factory fire in Bangladesh.

April 2013 - At least 1,136 people are killed and hundreds injured when an eight-storey building housing five garment factories supplying global brands collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka. 

The collapse of the Rana Plaza was the worst industrial accident in Bangladesh and the world’s most deadly industrial accident since the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India.

August 2016 - More than 100 people fall ill in Bangladesh after inhaling gas that leaked from a fertilizer factory in the town of Chittagong.

September 2016 - A fire at Tampaco Foils, a food and cigarette packaging factory, north of Dhaka kills at least 34 people and injures dozens.

July 2017 - At least 13 people have been killed and over 50 others injured in a boiler explosion in a Gazipur factory, and the survivors blame lack of safety measures for the accident.

June 2021 - A massive fire in a food processing factory of Hashem Food Ltd, a sister concern of Sajeeb Group, in Narayanganj has left at least 52 people killed.