SRIPUR, Bangladesh - A huge fire at a Bangladeshi factory whose workers were making clothes and fabrics for top Western labels has killed seven people in the latest disaster to blight the country's garment industry.
Firefighters battled through the night to douse the flames at the Aswad Knit Composite factory at Sripur, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. Parts of the two-storey building were still smouldering early Wednesday.
Police said the fire, which broke out when most of the 3,000 workers had left, was so intense that most of the bodies were too badly burned to be identified.
"Two bodies have been identified and handed over to their relatives. Five other bodies were charred beyond recognition," local police chief Amir Hossain told AFP, revising down an earlier toll of nine.
Workers said the overnight blaze appeared to have been started by a malfunctioning knitting machine which had caught fire on previous occasions.
An AFP correspondent at the scene found work order books containing names of clients in September which included US brand Gap, British retailer Next, Swedish fashion label H&M, Australia's Target and French supermarket Carrefour.
Both Gap and H&M denied that they had placed orders for clothes at the factory, but said they had a supplier relationship with its owner Palmal Industries, one of the country's largest garment groups.
"This factory does not produce garments for H&M, hence we don't audit this factory," H&M spokeswoman Andrea Roos told AFP by email.
When asked to comment on the order marked for the company, she said the factory was a supplier of fabric and yarn but "we don't have a direct business relationship with the affected factory."
A local Gap executive, who asked not to be named, also denied the group's clothes were made there.