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Safety calls after dozens die in Philippines fire

15 May 2015, 07:59

Manila - International organisations on Friday called for higher safety standards at workplaces in the Philippines after a footwear factory was destroyed by fire, killing at least 72 workers.

"Once again, we find ourselves mourning workers whose lives have been cut short as a result of workplace accidents," said Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labour Organisation. "Often such accidents are preventable."

"Everyone has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, regardless of the industry they are in or the type of work that they do," he added.

An indeterminate number were still missing after the fire at the two-storey building in the Manila suburb of Valenzuela, where emergency workers continued to sift through charred debris for bodies.

Also read: Philippine factory fire traps, kills 72; lapses investigated

With most of the dead found trapped on the second floor of the factory, authorities were checking if the building had appropriate fire exits. Windows on that floor were seen blocked by iron grills and steel wires, while there were only two staircases.

The European Union expressed concern about "news that poor labour conditions, including the lack of proper safety standards might have contributed to the shocking high number of victims of this tragedy".

The fire broke out on Wednesday after sparks from a welding machine hit a container of chemicals used in making slippers, triggering an explosion. The fire spread quickly with the building packed with combustible materials.



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