Heavy rains in the early hours on Monday, February 8, flooded different parts of Tangier in Morocco which led to a short circuit in an illegal textile workshop killing at least 25 workers. The illegal factory is located in the basement of a villa.
Preliminary reports suggest the flood water entered the factory, destroyed machines and caused a short circuit leading to the accident. 10 other workers were also injured. The majority of the dead and the injured are aged between 20 and 40 years and are women.
The search for survivors is still on and the final tally of dead and wounded may change. Following the accident, local authorities have opened an investigation into the cause and to identify the persons responsible.
The flood, caused by three hours of rain, also affected normal life in the city with disruption in traffic and shutting down of most of the businesses and educational institutions. Local media reported that Casablanca also witnessed similar flooding which resulted in the death of at least four people. Critics have also pointed out the failures of the private contractors hired to maintain sanitation and drainage systems in various Moroccan towns and cities.
While the urban planning in Morocco has been criticized, the central factor in Monday’s accident is related to the overall working conditions in the country. Most of the workers in Morocco work in unsafe conditions due to lack of legislation or corruption among the state authorities responsible for the implement the safety norms. According to Al Jazeera, Morocco has one of the highest cases of work-related accidents every year in the Middle East region.
The Democratic Way, a left-wing political party in Morocco, issued a statement on February 8 saying that it holds “the brutal capitalist system which is only concerned about the accumulation of profits through the intensive exploitation of the working class in the absence of the simplest conditions of protection and safety” along with the government authorities who are complicit with warehouse owners in violating existing labor codes for the accident. The party also demanded free and fair investigation into the accident.
A similar statement was also issued by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. They also demanded the dismissal of the governor of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region holding him responsible for the occurrence.