Seven people killed in a Chinese-owned clothing factory in Italy

Monday 02 December 2013 15.13
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11 workers were living in small cardboard sleeping compartments above a warehouse
11 workers were living in small cardboard sleeping compartments above a warehouse
Prato is considered to have the highest concentration of Chinese immigrants in Italy
Prato is considered to have the highest concentration of Chinese immigrants in Italy

At least seven people have died and three people were injured in a fire at a Chinese-owned clothing factory in an industrial zone in the Italian town of Prato.

The workers died after they became trapped in an improvised dormitory built on the site of the factory.

Local media said 11 workers had been accommodated in a warren of small cardboard sleeping compartments above a warehouse.
              
The president of the region of Tuscany Enrico Rossi said: "This is a disgrace for all of us, because we have to recognise this reality for what it is - the biggest concentration of illegal employment in northern and central Italy."
              
Footage posted on the website of the local Il Tirreno newspaper showed fire crews battling the flames in a warehouse-like structure while smoke poured out of the building.

Ambulances and police vehicles were also on the scene.

The fire has prompted immediate questions about the conditions on the site.

It has also highlighted conditions on a network of similar workshops operating in the area.

The area is noted for its large number of Chinese-owned textile manufacturing businesses.

CISL trade union secretary general of the Florence and Prato area Roberto Pistonina said on his Facebook page: "No one can say they are surprised at this."

The area is known for its hundreds of Chinese-owned wholesalers and workshops turning out cheap clothing for the export market as well as well-known retail chains.
              
Prato is considered to have the highest concentration of Chinese immigrants in Italy.

At least 15,000 are legally registered in a total population of under 200,000, according to official data. 

Thousands more are believed to be living in the city illegally.