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Investigation into deaths of seven workers at Nipal Metal and Engineering Works
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Death of seven workers at Nipa Metal and Engineering Works in Shyampur on 23 January 2007 following an explosion

Nipa Metal and Engineering Works, based in Shyampur, Dhaka is a manufacturer of fans and is owned by Khalilur Rahman Talukdar. On the 23rd January, a fire at the premises was initially reported in the Daily Star as causing the death of one worker. However inquiries by ASK showed that in fact seven workers died. The names of those who died are: Sagar, Shojib, Ershad, Akash, Russell, Mizan and Alamgir. There is uncertainty about the number of workers who were injured. It seems that one other worker Solaiman was seriously injured whilst another six received some injuries

There is an ‘unlawful death’ case at the police station but there is only one deceased person named there.

The evidence from those interviewed suggest that the fire was the result of a spark from a tube light in the room where the fans were being varnished by a solution made by mixing solvin oil with varnish. A spark from the tube light seems to have ignited the fumes.

The owner of the factory said that ““Everything is taken care of. As an owner, I provided assistance to all the injured and the deceased persons as much as I could. I treated them at the Parkwell Clinic adjacent to the Rajarbagh Police line”. He was not willing to provide the full names of those injured or deceased but said: “I have given them as much compensation as possible. I paid for all expenses for sending the dead bodies to their village homes”. When asked about providing proof of compensation he said “I gave the money after obtaining signatures on notary public stamps. Moreover, I paid the compensation with the help of local commissioner Mobarak Hossain (Ward No.87) and the police of Hajirbagh police station.” He said that he had given copies of these documents to Shyampur Police Station.

When asked about what safety measures he has taken at the factory, the owner said that before the fire he had kept 11 fire extinguishers and now he kept 24

One of those who died was Shojib who was approximately 10 years old and had been working in the factory for a year. He used to get snacks for the more senior workers and took parts of the fan between the ground and the first floor. ASK spoke to his mother, Zahera Begum who told him, that when she heard about the accident she ran towards the factory where she saw 7 or 8 bodies had been rescued and they had been kept in a line infront of the factory. Shojib died at 11pm the following say. He was buried in Jurain. She said that the owner had given Tk.60,000 as compensation. Shojib’s father, Ali Hossain Matbar, a rickshaw-puller agreed with his wife.

ASK also had a conversation with a 22 year old employee at the factory who had been working at the factory for the last year and who was injured in the blast receiving burns to her right and left legs. She said that the owner had helped her regarding treatment and compensation – but was reluctant to provide any information on how much she received.

ASK also spoke with a person who worked at the factory at the time of the incident. He said that he, along with some local people, had taken the people injured to the hospital, and that no one from the factory management had assisted. He said that he had had arguments with the factory owner as the owner was not interested in helping the families, and as a result he left the factory. In his view, the deaths were the result of an unhygienic and unhealthy atmosphere in the factory – and the room where the incident happened was always filled with gas. He said that many of the family members have now left the area – and the ones that he had spoken to did not want to get into further trouble by making compensation demands etc.

It appears that Mizan’s family obtained 60,000 compensation; Russel’s family obtained tk 30,000; and Alamgir’s family received 40,000 taka. Ershad’s family received tk 2 lakh. Ershad received 2 lakh as he had a relative working in Rapid Action Batallion (RAB)

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Page last updated on February 4, 2008