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Deadly fire breaks out in Indian garment factory

Police in India say at least 13 people have been killed in a fire at a garment factory on the eastern outskirts of the capital, New Delhi. South Asia's textile industry has a particularly alarming safety record.

Bangladesh Dhaka - Brand bei Fabrik (Reuters/M. Ponir Hossain)

People try to extinguish a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, in September, 2016

The garment workers were sleeping inside the factory building when the blaze broke out in the Ghaziabad district early Friday, a police spokesman said.

"Thirteen people who were sleeping there have died and another two or three people are getting treated at the hospital," the spokesman, Bhagwat Singh, told AFP.

Firefighters battled the flames for several hours before bringing the situation under control. Authorities are now investigating what caused the fire.

Local fire officer Abbas Hussain said the factory was in a residential building and appeared to be an illegal setup.

"From what we see, there was nothing proper and the factory must surely not have been a legal one but we can say for sure only after a proper investigation," he said.

Workplace safety standards are generally poorly enforced in India, and factory fires there are fairly common. Eight workers were killed in a huge explosion at a fireworks factory in the southern state of Tamil Nadu last month, while a 2014 blaze at a firecracker plant killed 15 people in Madhya Pradesh. In 2013, six workers were killed in a fire at a leather bag factory in New Delhi.

The safety record is also troubling in neighboring Bangladesh's lucrative textile industry, which supplies a number of Western clothing brands. 

More than 1,100 people were killed and hundreds more trapped when the Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka collapsed in April 2013. The disaster sparked global outrage and put pressure on European and US fashion brands to improve conditions in their supply chains.

nm/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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