2013 Savar building collapse
Photo of collapsed building
|Date||24 April 2013|
|Time||8:45 am Bangladesh Standard Time (UTC+06:00)|
Dhaka District, Bangladesh
|Deaths||At least 401|
|Injuries||At least 1,000|
On 24 April 2013, an eight-story commercial building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. At least 401 people died and another 1,000 were injured. Many others remain missing, feared buried under the rubble which will take several days to investigate and clear.
The building, which contained clothing factories, a bank, and several other shops, collapsed during morning rush hour. Warnings to avoid using the building after cracks appeared the day before had been ignored. Coming just five months after a major fire in another Dhaka garment factory, the collapse is thought to be Bangladesh's worst-ever industrial accident.
The building, Rana Plaza, was owned by Sohel Rana, leader of the local Jubo League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League. It housed a number of separate garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank. The factories manufactured apparel for brands including the Benetton Group, The Children's Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn. Walmart claims that they had no authorized production in the building, although one of the Rana Plaza factories, Ether Tex, listed Walmart as a customer. The head of the Bangladesh Fire Service & Civil Defense, Ali Ahmed Khan, said that the upper four floors had been built without a permit.
Bangladeshi news media reported that inspectors had discovered cracks in the building the day before and had requested evacuation and closure. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed, but garment workers were forced to return the following day, their supervisors declaring the building to be safe. Managers at Ether Tex threatened to withhold a month's pay from workers who refused to come to work.
- In April 2005, 73 garment workers died in a factory collapse in Savar.
- In February 2006, 18 workers were killed in a garment factory collapse in Dhaka.
- In June 2010, 25 people were killed in a building collapse in Dhaka.
- In November 2012, more than 100 workers died in a fire at a factory in Dhaka.
The building collapsed about 9 a.m., leaving only the ground floor intact. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president confirmed that 3,122 workers were in the building at the time of the collapse. One local resident described the scene as if "an earthquake had struck."
One of the garment manufacturers' websites indicates that more than half of the victims were women, along with a number of their children who were in nursery facilities within the building. Bangladeshi Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir confirmed that fire service personnel, police and Rapid Action Battalion troops were assisting with the rescue effort. Volunteer rescue workers used bolts of fabric to assist survivors to escape from the building. A national day of mourning was held on 25 April.
On 25 April 2013, the Dhaka city development authority filed a case against the owners of the building, and five of the garment factories contained therein. The same day, dozens of survivors were discovered in the remains of the building.
On 26 April, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the immediate arrest of Sohel Rana, the owner of the building, and four of the owners of the garment factories operating in the building. Sohel Rana was alleged to be in hiding. Authorities reported that four had already been arrested in connection with the collapse.
On 27 April, leftist political parties and Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 18 Party Alliance called a countrywide hartal on 2 May, demanding the arrest and trial of suspects and an independent commission to identify vulnerable factories.
On 28 April, the owner of the Rana Plaza, Sohel Rana, was arrested at Benapole, on the Indo-Bangladeshi border, in Jessore District by security forces. On the same day a fire broke out at the disaster site and authorities were forced to suspend temporarily the search for survivors.
IndustriALL Global Union, a global union federation representing textile and garment workers' trade unions around the world, launched an online campaign in support of the Bangladeshi unions' demand for labour law reform in the wake of the disaster. The campaign, hosted on LabourStart, calls for changes in the law to make it easier for unions to organize workers, as well as demanding improved health and safety conditions.
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