Thousands took to the streets today to protest factory conditions in Bangladesh, as a second clothing-factory fire broke out just two days after a horrific blaze killed over 100 garment workers. There were no reported deaths in Monday's fire, which broke out in a 10-story garment building near the capital of Dhaka, but that was only because the building was closed along with 200 other factories as workers across the country forced the shutdown in protest of the conditions that contributed to the disaster.
The fire on Saturday, in the city of Savar, was reportedly caused by a short circuit, but the deaths are being blamed by poor safety conditions (like a lack of emergency exits) and allegedly by mangers who shut off fire alarms and forced workers to return to their stations. Survivors say they were initially told that there was no fire, even after alarms went off, and by the time the realized the truth, they found exits blocked off or locked from the outside. The death toll is officially at 112 and many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.
Garment exporting is one of the biggest industries in Bangladesh, though factories there are notoriously dangerous and lack the safety standards and enforcement needed to protect poorer workers. More than 500 people have died in clothing factory incidents since 2006, many of them resembling famous disasters in England and the United States around the turn of the twentieth century. In September, more than 300 people died after a pair of similar factory fires in Pakistan. The Savar factory was owned by a clothing conglomerate, that counts Wal-mart and IKEA among its biggest clients.