Survivors of Bangladesh Fire Struggle Two Years on

Collection with 16 media items created by zakir hossain chowdhury

08 Mar 2014 23:00

They never knew the darkness of a grisly night could be a portent of another dark episode of their lives waiting ahead. The heavy air filled with smoke and heat, and the loud, terrified screams of the many people trapped inside the blazing Tazreen Fashion building were just the beginning of a drawn-out struggle survivors of the fire would still endure two years after the tragedy.

On 24 November 2012, at least 117 people burnt to death after becoming trapped behind locked exits at the Tazreen Fashion factory, which supplied clothes to global brands. Two-hundred more people were severely injured in the fire.

Those who were lucky to survive do not feel like that anymore, as they suffered serious injuries, received no compensation, and are now left without a source of income. More than one-hundred of the injured Tazreen workers face extreme hardship and struggle to bear the costs of their treatment.

Anju Ara is one of them. "Sometimes the intensity of the pain drives me mad," she said. "I break things in desperation. I wake up screaming 'fire! fire!' at night. I can't sleep."

A good number of survivors are yet to recover from the trauma of the terrible incident, having lost their mental strength permanently, not able to work in the garment sector or in any other industry. Many others could not afford proper treatment afterwards and have developed fatal health complications over the last 24 months.

The fire started on the ground floor of the nine-story factory – and while the fire was consuming the lower floor, many desperate workers were stuck on the second, third and fourth floors of the building. Finding no way out, they broke windows on the eastern side, and jumped out.

Some survivors say their new lease on life has become a curse amid the practicalities of poverty. The list of health problems among them is long. Kidney disease, backbone problems, and chest pains prevail, and many also suffer from severe post-traumatic stress and crippling fear whenever they try to sleep.

Shahnaz Begum, 36, jumped from 3rd floor of the building. “I lost an eye and I’m having backbone problems,” she said. She now has to struggle to make a living and survive two years on.

Both Hasan Mia, 30, and Mahfuza Akter, 20, jumped from the second floor and survived the deathly fire that killed their friends and co-workers. “I now suffer from psychological and mental illness. It’s hard to think of that day,” says Mia. Like her colleague, Mahfuza suffers from the same illness.

The 2012 Dhaka fire was the deadliest factory fire in Bangladesh's history. The cause was initially blamed on a short circuit, however the government later declared that it could had been an “arson attack or sabotage" due to the occurrence of previous similar events.
Because of the large amount of fabric and yarn in the factory, the fire spread quickly to other floors, burning the building for over 17 hours before the firefighters were able to extinguishing it.

Bangladesh Tazreen Fire Dhaka Tragedy Factory Workers Textile Garment

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Title photo for the collection
Garment Factory Fire Survivors 01
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Morsheda Begum, 27, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the deadly 2012 factory fire, breaking several bones

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 16
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Moushumi Begum, 24, was pregnant with her daughter Zinti when she jumped from 3rd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building. Her daughter is alive and well, but Moushumi remains deeply scarred by the fire that took 117 of her colleagues' lives.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 15
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Mahinur, 32, jumped from 3rd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the deadly blaze. Two years later, she remains psychologically scarred by the traumatic event.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 14
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
09 Mar 2014

Rowshonara, 37, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the deadly blaze. She still fights to overcome the deep mental and emotional trauma.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 13
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Banu Rani, 35, was severely injured when she jumped from the 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the blaze.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 12
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
09 Mar 2014

Shama, 20, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the fire that killed 117 people in 2012. She sustained serious injuries to her leg and the right side of her body that still cause her complications two years later.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 11
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Anzu, 45, jumped from 4th floor of the Tazreen Fashion building, which burnt down in 2012 killing 1167 people. Two years later, she is haunted by the fire and has trouble sleeping.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 10
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Reshma, 20, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building when a fire broke out that killed 117 people in 2012. She still suffers backbone and leg problems due to injuries she sustained from the fall.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 09
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Sume Akter, 23, broke her leg and hand when she jumped from the 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the blaze that killed 117 of her colleagues in 2012.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 08
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Khadeza Akter Sume, 20, jumped from the 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building when a fire killed 117 people in 2012. She still struggles to cope with the trauma.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 07
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
09 Mar 2014

Hasan Mia, 30, jumped from the 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building when it went ablaze two years ago. He still struggles with mental illness.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 06
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Afroza Begum, 26, jumped from 3rd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building. Since the fire, she has struggled with mental illness.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 05
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
09 Mar 2014

Shahnaz Begum, 36, jumped from 3rd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the deadly fire that permanently damaged her eye. She sustained serious spinal injuries from the fall.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 04
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Mahfuza Akter, 20, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building when went ablaze in 2012, killing 117 of her coworkers. Two years later, the emotional and psychological trauma remains.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 03
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Rupa Begum, 26, jumped from 2nd floor of the building, breaking her nose as she fell to the ground.

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Garment Factory Fire Survivors 02
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By zakir hossain chowdhury
08 Mar 2014

Anzu Ara, 26, jumped from 2nd floor of the Tazreen Fashion building to escape the factory fire that claimed 117 lives. "Sometimes the intensity of the pain drives me mad," she said. "I break things in desperation. I wake up screaming 'fire! fire!' at night. I can't sleep."