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Indian Leather Factory Fire Kills More than a Dozen Garment Workers

A fire that broke out in an Indian factory killed at least 13 workers and critically injured eight more who were sleeping in the factory.

The blaze started around 4:00 a.m. while workers slept at the leather factory in the Uttar Pradesh area on the outskirts of the country’s capital, New Delhi. A short circuit is being cited as the likely cause, according to Reuters.

Police have also said the factory may have been operating illegally without a license in an already congested residential area, and investigations are ongoing.

The fire reportedly spread from the ground floor stitching unit where the workers dozed and spread to the upper floors, eventually gutting the three-story building. Sixteen workers were rescued.

Labor rights activists are saying such incidents are commonplace and that not enough has been learned or changed following the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,000 people in Bangladesh in 2013.

“Despite the many disasters we have seen before, and the great amount of attention to the dangerous working conditions in the South Asian garment industry, factories there largely remain unsafe,” Clean Clothes Campaign’s Carin Leffler told Reuters. “These workers were killed because they were sleeping in the factory.”