Bangladesh migrants flee rising seas only to die in factory fires

When 15-year-old Tarek Zia left his home on Bangladesh’s coast in June and travelled 150km (93 miles) to work at a food-processing factory in Dhaka, he was filled with hope.

The extra money felt like a godsend after the loss of his father’s precious farmland over the years to river erosBut a month later, a massive fire raged through the six-storey building where Zia worked, killing him along with more than 50 others.

Officials said the factory had been built without permission and lacked adequate safety measures, such as emergency fire exits.

ion and an ever-encroaching shoreline.

Zia’s charred body was handed over to his family last week after a DNA test confirmed his identity.

“My son went to work because school was closed due to the pandemic and he wanted to support us … but fate had other plans,” said Zia’s father Abul Bashar, who lives on an island in Hatia in southeast Bangladesh.

“Four years ago we had land where we could grow vegetables and daal (lentils). But we lost that to river erosion and now we are back to zero … we moved our house away from the river a few years ago but today the river is right next to us once again.”

Zia was not the only victim of the July 8 tragedy to have been driven out of his rural home by the worsening effects of the climate crisis to search for work in the capital.