April 25, 2013

At least 149 dead, more trapped after Bangladesh factory collapse

Despite structural damage, the garment facility had been deemed safe.

The Associated Press

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An eight-story garment factory collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, on Wednesday, killing at least 87 and leaving many more trapped in the rubble.

The Associated Press

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Relatives mourn a victim at the site where an eight-story garment factory collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, on Wednesday, killing at least 87 and leaving many more trapped in the rubble.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Mango denied reports it was using any of the suppliers in the building. However, in an email statement to the AP, it said that there had been conversations with one of them to produce a batch of test products.

Kevin Gardner, a spokesman at Walmart Stores, Inc., the second-largest clothing producer in Bangladesh, said the company is investigating to see if a factory in the building had been producing for the chain at the time of the collapse.

"We remain committed and are actively engaged in promoting stronger safety measures, and that work continues," Gardner said.

Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which has an office in Dhaka, says his staff is investigating. He's hoping his team, working with local workers' groups, will be able to find out which brands were having their products made at the time of the collapse.

"You can't trust many buildings in Bangladesh," Kernaghan said. "It's so corrupt that you can buy off anybody and there won't be any retribution."

An enormous section of the concrete structure appeared to have splintered like twigs. Colorful sheets of fabric were tied to upper floors so those inside could climb or slide down and escape.

An arm jutted out of one section of the rubble. A lifeless woman covered in dust could be seen in another.

Sumi, a 25-year-old worker who goes by one name, said she was sewing jeans on the fifth floor with at least 400 others when the building fell.

"It collapsed all of a sudden," she said. "No shaking, no indication. It just collapsed on us."

She said she managed to reach a hole in the building where rescuers pulled her out.

Firefighters and soldiers with drilling machines and cranes worked with volunteers to search for survivors.

Rescuers carried the body of a young boy from the building; it was not immediately clear what he had been doing inside. The building housed a bank and various shops in addition to the garment factories.

Mosammat Khurshida wailed as she looked for her husband. "He came to work in the morning. I can't find him," she said. "I don't know where he is. He does not pick up his phone."

The morgue of the medical college echoed with the sobs of people waiting for the bodies of their loved ones.

"Where's my mother? Where's my mother? Tell me, tell me, oh Allah, oh Allah!" Rana Ahmed cried.

Asaduzzaman, the local police chief, said nearly 100 bodies had been handed to their families as of Thursday morning.

The collapse was even deadlier than the November factory fire that drew international attention to working conditions in Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year textile industry. The country has about 4,000 garment factories and exports clothes to leading Western retailers, and the industry wields vast power in the South Asian nation.

The Tazreen factory in the fire lacked emergency exits, and its owner said only three floors of the eight-story building were legally built. Surviving employees said gates had been locked and managers had told them to go back to work after the fire alarm went off.

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Additional Photos

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People and rescuers gather after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh. Firefighters and soldiers using drilling machines and cranes worked together with local volunteers in the search for other survivors from the building.

The Associated Press

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Rescuers assist an injured woman after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Rescue workers and people look for survivors after an eight-story building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, on Wednesday. An enormous section of the concrete structure appeared to have splintered like twigs.

The Associated Press



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