The owner of the clothing factory in Bangladesh that was recently engulfed in a deadly inferno told a local newspaper that he is to blame for the deaths of more than 100 workers, but said he was never told that the facility didn't have proper emergency exits.
"It was my fault," Delowar Hossain said, according to Bangladesh's The Daily Star. "But nobody told me that there was no emergency exit, which could be made accessible from outside. Nobody even advised me to install one like that, apart from the existing ones."
"I could have done it," he said, "but nobody ever suggested that I do it."
Local labor officials visited the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory several times and no safety concerns were raised, Hossain said.
Hossain's comments come hours after ABC News reported that several survivors of Saturday's fire said they were locked in the building as the flames spread around them. The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights shared one worker's account in which the man said collapsible gates had been pulled shut to prevent anyone from escaping even as word of the fire got around.
"We pleaded with [a manager] to let us out, but [he] assured us that nothing was wrong and we should keep working," the witness said. "He told us not to listen to any rumors. He said again, 'Nothing has happened, just keep working.'"
Kalpona Akter, a labor activist based in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, spoke with a number of survivors who described a scene of horror as workers started to smell smoke, and then the power went out and they were thrown into darkness.
"Then they ran to the stairs and found it was already fire caught in the stairs," she said. "They broke one window in the east side of the factory and … they started to jump."
Authorities in Bangladesh announced three arrests, all supervisors from the factory, whom the police accused of negligence in their handling of the incident.
A journalist who attended the police press conference Wednesday told ABC News the three men were arrested "because they did not perform their duty" and prevented workers from escaping from the factory, instead of helping them get out.