The three managers have been accused of stopping workers from escaping the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory and even locking the doors as the blaze swept through the building, the deadliest such incident to hit the Bangladeshi garment industry, according to news reports.
“If the accused acted responsibly, the victims and other survivors might have escaped the accident,” an unnamed police official told the National News Agency of Bangladesh.
Protests continued to rage Wednesday over the calamitous fire, which has captured global attention and thrown new light on dangerous working conditions in this rapidly growing sector. Western retailers such as Wal-Mart and ENYCE, which have been linked to the factory outside Dhaka, are being pressed to demand safer workplaces for Bangladeshi laborers who make their apparel.
As investigations into the fire continued, an association of garment factory owners claimed the factory complied with safety standards, the national news agency reported Wednesday. An Associated Press reporter who examined the factory spotted dozens of fire extinguishers in the building, many of which appeared to be unused.
Bangladeshi officials have said the fire may have been an act of sabotage. Footage aired on television showed employees at another factory in the area trying to set cotton on fire, Reuters news agency reported; the two people caught on video have been taken into custody.