Lone door led out as fire burned Indian factory of US denim
Feb. 12, 2020
Rajesh Bhatt, a senior fire official at the scene, told The Associated Press that the factory had just one door that could only be reached by climbing a steep ladder. The workers, Bhatt said, were resting after long shifts when the fire started.
“There were hardly any means of escape from the blaze,” said Bhatt.
Police investigators said the factory had violated multiple regulations and the owner, a manager and a fire safety officer have been arrested.
Local safety and health authorities have asked the company to close until further notice. Its licenses have been suspended, and Nandan Denim has agreed to pay the families of those killed a reported $14,000 each.
Purvee, a factory spokeswoman who goes by only her first name, did not explain how it started but called the fire “unfortunate.” Factory officials would not comment on whether they had undergone required audits and reviews.
Surviving workers, who are paid about 35 cents per hour, said conditions had been dangerous.
“We work almost 14 hours a day. But do we have an option?” said Vimalbhai, a textile worker, who goes by only one name. “Every once a while there is a fire in some factory or the other. Nobody cares and we keep on working.”
Some workers said they were given impossible assignments, stitching more than 400 pieces of garments a day. This forced many of them, mostly women, to work at a frantic pace, often forgoing meal breaks or using the toilet, said survivors.