Photos by Gianni Cipriano for the New York Times

A deadly blaze in a sweat shop in Prato on the outskirts of Florence has left seven Chinese immigrant workers dead- and flared up racial tensions in the region. The fire broke out Teresa Moda outlet and factory , where these workers were trapped due to a lack of emergency exits and bars on the windows. The workers’ deaths have caused a stir between locals and immigrants, who provide cheap labor in the areas factories.

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The Teresa Moda fire is thought to be caused by a camp stove, which workers in the sweat shop style factory used to cook their daily lunches and dinners. Without emergency exits and no way to get through the windows, two women and five men, all from China, were killed, with two others left seriously injured.

Unsafe working conditions has been the norm in the Italian town, with law enforcers trying to get a handle on the many factories over the past few years. Italian officials blame  the failure to upgrade the factories on the resistance of Chinese immigrant workers, who make up 45 percent of the local manufacturing businesses in some way or another.

Four Chinese citizens have been placed in blame for the Teresa Moda fire, citing failure to ensure workplace safety. Warrants have been issued for 11 people linked to the fire, including both Chinese and Italian workers. Authorities hope that this awful tragedy will bring light to the situation, and cause factories in Prato to amp up their safety, preventing another deadly fire like at Teresa Moda.

+ New York Times