112 killed in fire at Bangladesh garment factory

As Bangladesh prepared to mourn the deaths of more than 100 clothing factory workers, firefighters battled a blaze at another apparel factory near Dhaka on Monday.

Police and witnesses said the new 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.

The Bangladesh government, at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, announced a period of national mourning Tuesday. The mourning will mark the Saturday deaths of factory workers in Ashulia and overpass collapse victims in Chittagong, Cabinet Secretary M. Musharraf Hossain said.

The government also announced that all apparel factories would be closed Tuesday and special prayers would be offered at mosques, churches and temples.

The government also ordered an investigation of the cause of the fire and the deaths, and it asked two committees to file reports within a week.

Local police said at least 10 people were injured in Uttara on Monday as they jumped from windows to flee the fire.

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.

Meanwhile, thousands of workers from dozens of clothing factories at Ashulia took to the streets Monday morning to protest the deaths of their colleagues. The protesters blocked highway traffic and demonstrated for several hours.

"We deployed huge contingents of police, and no violent incidents happened there," Dhaka District Police Superintendent Habibur Rahman told CNN.

Police reported 110 deaths in the fire at Tazreen Fashion at Ashulia. All the bodies were handed over to relatives, except for 59 charred ones that will be buried under government supervision after DNA samples are extracted.

The country has around 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for brands including Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's and Carrefour. The sector earned $19 billion in the financial year that ended in June 2012.

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

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