Seven others were also detained for the massive fire that broke out at a food processing site where safety regulations were allegedly violated.
Police in Bangladesh have arrested on charges of murdering the owner of a factory where at least 52 people died in a massive fire, as it emerges that 11-year-old children had been working there.
Four of the owner’s children were also among eight people detained generally Saturday for the hell that erupted Thursday and raged for more than a day. A separate survey was launched on the use of child labor in the facility.
Emergency services told Al Jazeera they had recovered 49 of the bodies at the Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Rupganj, an industrial city 25 km (15 miles) east of the capital, Dhaka. Three people died even after jumping out of the building.
The charred victims were piled into an ambulance fleet and taken to the mortuaries amid distressed screams and tears from people watching in the street.
Jayedul Alam, police chief for Narayanganj district where the factory is located, said the entrance had been cleared at the time of the fire and that the factory had violated more fire and safety regulations.
“He was a deliberate assassin,” the police chief told AFP.
A spokesman for the fire services also said the main stairway exit door had been locked. Highly flammable chemicals and plastics had also been stored in the building.
Al Jazeera’s Tanvir Chowdhury, who reports from outside the factory in Rupganj, said authorities had moved in quickly, noting that it usually takes “several days or weeks” before arrests are made.
“Rupganj police have filed a murder case against them,” Chowdhury said, referring to those in custody.
Authorities said the rescue operation was over. However, Chowdhury said some employees were still missing, according to his parents.
Meanwhile, Monnujan Sufian, Minister of State for Labor, said investigations had begun into the use of children working in the factory.
Sufian told AFP she had spoken in a hospital to two 14-year-old survivors. One woman said her 11-year-old nephew had worked in the factory and was missing.
Nazma Akter, founder and executive director of the Awaj Foundation for Workers ’Rights, told Al Jazeera that safety negligence was routine in factories in Bangladesh – and children suffer mostly from a lack of protection.
“It is very sad and very disappointing that so many children have died even in the fire incident,” Akter said.
“We have [a] law, whether there is a young worker or a child worker, [it should be] five hours of work, three hours of education but … they worked as adult workers – 10 to 12 hours, seven days a week, ”he added.
“No one cares about the life and safety issues of workers.”
Bangladesh is committed to reforms following the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 when a nine-storey complex collapsed killing more than 1,100 people.
But there have been a number of fires and other disasters since then. In February 2019, at least 70 people died when a fire ravaged Dhaka apartments where chemicals were stored illegally.