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Dhaka Tribune

RMG factory fire : Victims tried to douse flames

Update : 09 Oct 2013, 08:18 PM

The six workers and one official of Aswad Composite Mills Limited, who lost their lives in Tuesday’s devastating fire, could not get away from the burning factory building in time because they were trying to fight the flames.

Several surviving workers said they had enough time to leave the building by the eight spacious staircases after the fire broke out and most of them did so, except some brave ones. Among them seven could not come out in the end from the second floor of the two-storey building.

Aswad Composite Mills is a sister concern of Palmal Group at Beraiderchala in Sreepur, Gazipur.

An official, who witnessed the incident, told the Dhaka Tribune that the factory’s Assistant General Manager Rasheduzzaman Mandol was in a meeting with Director Emdad Khan and other high officials in the afternoon in the conference room.

“I was standing in front of a row of workstations. Suddenly around 5:45pm someone from the knitting section shouted that he had seen sparks from a chimney of a Standard Machine. The machine was on the ground floor but its chimney came out on the second floor,” the official said.

Hearing the noise, the AGM and other officials rushed to the spot.

“We pulled out two hose pipes, took out a couple of fire extinguishers, but the flames seemed to be going beyond control every moment,” he said.

“The fire spread to the adjacent rooms. We asked the women to run and men to help. But the fumes made it impossible to see anything within a few minutes. The fumes were toxic and intolerable. It choked our breath,” he said.

The official last saw Naimur Rahman, assistant fitter-man to hold an end of a hose pipe before fume covered the area. The AGM was standing near a staircase.

“God saved me. With my cell phone’s torch light I grabbed a staircase railing. I don’t know how I came out,” he said.

Fire Service and Civil Defence officials also described a similar situation.

“Fire fighting equipment were available in the factory but workers could not use them. Besides, the chemicals used in the factory were not flammable, but they created a lot of smoke,” said Deputy Assistant Director Akhteruzzaman.

Workers said on the first floor there were 91 Standard Machines, which check fabric quality. But during the incident 60 of them were running. There were 170 workers on that floor in seven rows including six women.

The knitting and dyeing sections were on the second floor and the compacting section was on the ground floor. This floor was not damaged in the fire.

According to a couple of workers the factory produced fabric for some famous clothing brands like Wall Mart, Zixy, H&M, George, Just Jeans, Primark, Terranova, All Worth, Brass Pro, Benetto and Zara.            

Meanwhile, the local administration on Wednesday ascertained the names of seven victims — AGM Rasheduzzaman Mandol, Senior Operator Khalilur Rahman, 26, Assistant Fitter-man Naimur Rahman, Operators of knitting section Md Rubel Miah,23, Bulbul Islam, 29, Minhazur Huq, 23, and Lazu Miah Razu, 21. Police said nine people were killed in the incident.

On Wednesday a number of workers had reported some of their co-workers missing.

Gazipur Additional District Magistrate Mohammed Mohsin was entrusted with the responsibility to head a seven-member probe team to look into the incident on Wednesday.

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