Bangladesh factory fire ‘not serious’

A Bangladeshi rescue worker shouts as others look to retrieve survivors. Picture: AP

A Bangladeshi rescue worker shouts as others look to retrieve survivors. Picture: AP

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BANGLADESH’S finance minister has played down the impact of last week’s factory building collapse on his country’s garment industry, saying he did not think it was “really serious” – hours after the 500th body was pulled from the debris.

Abul Maal Abdul Muhith spoke yesterday as the government cracked down on those it blamed for the disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar. It suspended Savar’s mayor and arrested an engineer who had called for the building’s evacuation last week, but was also accused of helping the owner add three illegal floors to the eight-story structure. The building’s owner is in detention.

During a visit to the Indian capital, New Delhi, Mr Muhith said the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s clothing industry, which is by far the country’s biggest source of export income.

“The present difficulties … well, I don’t think it is really serious – it’s an accident,” he said. “And the steps that we have taken in order to make sure that it doesn’t happen… I believe that it will be appreciated by all.”

The government made such promises after a factory fire killed 112 five months ago. That plan has yet to be implemented.

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