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H&M Bangladesh deaths under scrutiny

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H&M Bangladesh deaths under scrutiny
12:26 CET+01:00
A fire at a H&M factory in Bangladesh last week was not the first to have broken out at the site and the company is investigating allegations that 21 workers who died in the blaze were locked in at the time.

"There was a smaller fire there in 2008, but no one was injured then," H&M spokesperson, Jenni Tapper Hoël told news agency TT.

"Personnel from our local office are on the way there now to find out what happened," she said, adding that it was too early to comment on speculation that a lack of safety provisions at the factory was responsible for the deaths.

When the fire broke out on Thursday at the plant in Gazipur, north of the country's capital, Dhaka, 21 workers were trapped in an upper floor which survivors say was locked, reports TT. At least 40 workers were injured.

The factory which makes knitted sweaters for H&M was previously checked by the company in October 2009 and no major safety shortfalls were found, said Tapper Hoël .

Viveka Risberg, head of Swedwatch, a state funded organization monitoring Swedish companies in developing countries said that it was not the first time workers have died in fires at H&M factories in Bangladesh.

"I know that another factory, that also works for H&M, burned during the last decade and that people died," she told TT.

Risberg, who previously worked for the company and visited the factory in Gazipur, said that workers had been locked in there before.

"I know that it occurred ten years ago, but I thought that it was a thing of the past."

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