Business, Economics and Jobs

Bangladesh garment workers get sick from dirty drinking water


A few protesters, dressed in white, lay on the street as corpses in front of a sitting protester who represents the BGMEA, the garment industry's trade body.


Tazkira Sattar

Hundreds of people working at a Bangladesh garment factory have fallen ill, officials announced. Investigators from the government's health ministry are currently testing the drinking water.  

One of the workers hospitalized, 25-year-old Swapna Rani, in fact noticed her symptoms immediately after taking a sip. “I had drank from the water jar and around 8:30 am felt a searing pain in my stomach," Rani told the Independent. "I began vomiting within the next hour.

The Associated Press puts the number of sick workers at 450, but officials gave the Independent and Agence France-Presse a higher estimate, saying that about 600 people were hospitalized.

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The workers were from the Starlight Sweater Factory, which makes garments for "big-name Western labels,"  the AFP said, though the brands have not been identified.

Particularly bizarre is that some authorities suspect that the filthy water was no accident. "We are suspecting that it was poisoning of the water. It could be some sort of pesticide," an official from Bangladesh's Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told the AFP.  

The poisoning comes after a series of tragedies have highlighted the terrible working conditions that people making garments for popular brands face. In April, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,129 people. And late last year, a deadly fire broke out at a Bangladesh factory.