Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fire in Ghazl al Mahalla factories

According to reports, A fire broke out in three factory buildings in Egypt´s and probably the Arab World´s largest factory with some 24 000 employees. The fire began when the factory was restarted after Eid al Fitr holidays, at about 6 o Clock in the morning . The factory contains raw cotton, so the fire spread heavily. The Fire brigade fought the fire for hours and managed to control it. The material damages seems heavy, but no casualties in the workforce is reported. The news is still sketchy , and there also seems to be an attempt at hindering reporters from reaching the factories.

Karim al Beheiry points out that this is the second fire that hits the Ghazl al Mahalla company within a week(considering that the factory was closed for half of it, that should keep the responsible for fire security, sleepless at night).

The City of Mahalla is situated in the delta, the industrial heart of Egypt. The workers of the Ghazl al Mahalla company has been the focal point of labour activism since December 2006, and the call for a general strike proclaimed on facebook that gathered 64 000 names in two weeks, where made to support the workers in Mahalla on that particular day, as well as being a call to protest the increase in prices. In the following days Mahalla was the scene of riots, that took at least two lives, and led to mass arrests and police brutality. The city was totaly cordoned off from the outside world for a few days.

One might wonder when this string of fires will end.

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