DHAKA, Bangladesh — The owner of a Bangladesh clothing factory where a fire killed 112 people says he was never informed the facility was required to have an emergency exit, a sign of how far removed the leaders of the nation’s garment industry are from issues of worker safety.
‘‘It was my fault. But nobody told me that there was no emergency exit, which could be made accessible from outside,’’ factory owner Delwar Hossain told The Daily Star newspaper on Thursday. ‘‘Nobody even advised me to install one like that, apart from the existing ones.’’
‘‘I could have done it. But nobody ever suggested that I do it,’’ said Hossain.
Activists in the South Asian country hope the tragedy will invigorate their lengthy efforts to upgrade safety standards and force stronger government oversight of the powerful industry.
The Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in a Dhaka suburb was making clothes for Walmart, Sears, Disney, and other major global retailers. When a fire broke out over the weekend, many of the 1,400 workers were trapped inside the eight-story building because exit doors were locked. A fire official said the death toll would have been much lower if the factory had had an emergency exit.
Police said they were interrogating three factory managers on possible negligence charges. Workers said as they tried to escape the fire they found exit doors were locked.
Workers have expressed support for Hossain. Worker Mohammad Rajib said he is a ‘‘gentle man’’ who gave them raises and fired some managers after workers protested against low pay and abuse.