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Bangladesh suspends seven factory inspectors

by FARID HOSSAIN Associated Press on June 10, 2013 10:00 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh has suspended seven inspectors it accuses of negligence for renewing the licenses of garment factories in a building that collapsed in April, killing more than 1,100 people, a top Labor Ministry official said today.

The official, Mikail Shipar, said a ministry investigation found that the inspectors never even visited the five factories housed in the shabbily built eight-story Rana Plaza building.

He said one of the factories, EtherTex, had been operating without any license from the factory inspection department since 2008, while the others were licensed through 2013.

At least 1,129 people died when the building in the Dhaka suburb of Savar collapsed April 24, a day after cracks in the building prompted authorities to issue an evacuation order.

Shipar said the ministry’s report was preliminary, and that if the accusations are proven the inspectors, all mid-level officials, will lose their jobs.

Inspectors are required to visit factories before issuing licenses, but “in the cases of these five factories, the inspectors renewed the licenses sitting at their desks,” Shipar said.

The number of factories in Bangladesh has soared in recent years to more than 240,000, while their safety is checked by only 50 government inspectors who issue operating licenses, said Obaidul Islam, a senior official at the office of the Chief Inspector of Factories.

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