Amazing, after 17 days a woman was rescued alive from beneath the rubble of the collapsed garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday. However, the death toll has officially risen from 15 to 1,034 -- making the accident the worst the garment industry has ever seen. The collapse, and the fire that took place at a sweater factory in Dhaka earlier this week, highlight the increasing concerns about the dangerous conditions for garment workers, an industry that brings in $20 billion for the small South Asian nation by providing clothing at a low cost to retailers worldwide.
11 documents found in 0 seconds.
- Bhopal disaster
- JC Penney
- Marks & Spencer
- Occupy Wall Street
- Rana Plaza
- Ranza Plaza
- block the boat
- building collapse
- building permits
- construction regulatons
- fire safety
- industrial accident
- locked exit
- textile workers
At least eight people were killed in Bangladesh Thursday after an 11-story garment factory went up in flames. The fire was fueled by huge piles of acrylic products used to make sweaters. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene of the Tung Hai Sweater Ltd. Factory in the capital of Dhaka, the first few floors of the building were already engulfed in flames. Speaking to reporters, the deputy director of the fire service Mamun Mahmud described the occupants' desperate attempt to flee the building. "We recovered all of them on the stairwell on the ninth floor," he said. The deadly fire comes as the death toll from an eight-story building collapse in Dhaka passed 900 this week.
The identities of the victims of Wednesday's fire showed the entanglement of the industry and top Bangladeshi officials. The dead included the factory's managing director, Mahbubur Rahman, who was also on the board of directors of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Along with him was senior police official Z.A. Morshed and Sohel Mostafa Swapan, head of a local branch of the ruling party's youth league.
Independent TV, a local station, reported that Rahman had plans to contest next year's elections as a candidate for the ruling party and had been meeting friends to discuss his future when the fire broke out.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which began soon after the factory workers went home for the day and took three hours to bring under control. Mahmud speculated it might have originated in the factory's ironing section. Officials originally said the building also housed several floors of apartments, but later said it was just a factory.
The garment factory building collapse death toll has now climbed to 930 making the collapse of Rana Plaza the world's deadliest industrial accident since India's Bhopal disaster in 1984.
The death toll in the deadly Bangladesh building collapse topped 500 on Thursday, while the country’s Finance minister tried to downplay the tragedy, calling it “not really serious.” “These are individual cases of ... accidents,” Finance Minister Abud Maal Abdul Muhith said Friday. “It happens everywhere.” Muhith insisted that the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s garment industry, the country’s biggest export industry. But he may have his work cut out for him: last month Disney decided to pull its factories from Bangladesh. Although Disney represented less than 1 percent of Bangladesh’s garment industry, others could follow the entertainment giant’s lead.
The owner of the building, Sohel Rana, who is under investigation in the worker's deaths has had his assets seized. Protesters have called for him to be hanged.
Bangladeshi police on Thursday arrested the engineer who warned a day before the disaster that the building was unsafe.
The arrest of the engineer, Abdur Razzaque Khan, was a surprise twist since he was regarded as something of a hero for trying to avert the April 24 disaster. A day before the building collapsed, Mr. Khan had been summoned because cracks had suddenly appeared in the structure, forcing an evacuation. He concluded that the building had become dangerous and should be closed until experts could conduct a more thorough investigation — advice that turned out to be grimly prescient.
His comments appeared the next morning in at least one national newspaper. But the police say that the building’s owner, Sohel Rana, and the factory owners are blaming Mr. Khan, saying he told them the cracks were just a small problem. A police official said that Mr. Khan is being interrogated to determine who is telling the truth.
Authorities also suspended the mayor of the city, Savar, for his part in the tragedy. He stands accused of improperly granting building permits to Mr. Rana, who is a political ally, and of failure to take appropriate action to close the building when the structural cracks appeared.
UPDATE: Via Reuters:
"Two factory bosses were arrested in Bangladesh on Saturday, 72 hours after the deadly collapse of a building where low-cost garments were made for Western brands, as the death toll rose to 325 and angry workers protested on the streets of the capital."
"The owner of the eight-storey building that fell like a pack of cards around more than 3,000 workers was still on the run."
Bangladeshi police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters demanding better working conditions after a garment factory collapsed, killing hundreds, earlier this week. M Asaduzzam, a police officer in the control room, called the protests "volatile." Asaduzzam said police used “rubber bullets and tear gas” to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, the death toll in Wednesday’s deadly building collapse has risen to 300, with authorities expecting to find even more bodies as they search the building. A total of 50 people were found alive Friday, raising the hopes of thousands of relatives. The collapse came just months after a fire in November at a factory that makes clothes for Walmart and other Western labels.
Officials estimate that close to 100 people were killed near Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka Wednesday morning when an eight-story garment factory collapsed. Hundreds gathered at the site of the accident, where officials fear more remain trapped under the rubble. Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Haque reported that more than 600 people had been rescued, and hoped that more will be added to that number. Bangladesh has received harsh criticism for its factory conditions after two other deadly fires at garment factories in the past year -- one of which left 112 dead.
Five garment factories - employing mostly women - were housed in the building, including Ether Tex Ltd., whose chairman said he was unaware of any warnings not to open the workshops.
"There was some crack at the second floor, but my factory was on the fifth floor," Muhammad Anisur Rahman told Reuters. "The owner of the building told our floor manager that it is not a problem and so you can open the factory."
He initially said that his firm had been sub-contracted to supply Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, and Europe's C&A. In a subsequent interview he said he had been referring to an order in the past, not current work.
Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to requests for comment. C&A said that, based on its best information, it had no contractual relationship with any of the production units in the building that collapsed.
Buildings are reportedly sometimes erected without permission and many do not comply with construction regulations.
Yet another tragic fire at a factory in Bangladesh's garment district on Saturday has claimed the lives of seven women there, one of whom wasreportedly just 16-years old:
"When I tried to escape through the emergency exit I found the gate locked," Raushan Ara, a worker at the factory, was quoted as saying by Dhaka's Prothom Alo newspaper.
The newspaper said at least 50 people were injured in a stampede triggered by the fire. Six were hospitalized, while others received first aid treatment on their own.
Some of the injured jumped out of the windows of the two-story factory, survivors said.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Monzurul Kabir said the bodies of 7 women were recovered from the top floor of the factoryt. He said the factory was making pants and shirts, but could not provide further details.
Fire official Abdul Halim said it took firefighters about two hours to bring the blaze under control.
Volunteers joined firefighters in battling the fire as a large crowd gathered outside the factory awaiting word on the fate of relatives. Family members were seen crying near the body of a female worker named Josna, who was 16.
About 250 workers were working at the time of the fire, newspapers said.
The owner of the factory, Smart Export Garment Ltd., was not yet not available for comment, so it is not yet known if they produced their garments for any international companies.
Since 2005, over 600 garment factory workers have perished in workplace fires.
About sixty activists gathered on Tuesday, December 18th outside the Port of Newark to protest the arrival of a ship they said carried Wal-mart goods from Bangladesh. Carrying cardboard tombstones spelling out Walmart’s name, and garments bearing the names of workers who died in the New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the protesters said that the retail giant is culpable for the deaths of 112 workers in a similar fire last month in Bangladesh. Chants included, “One, two three four, don’t let that boat come ashore! Five, six, seven, eight, don’t touch that sh*t, don’t move that freight!”
“The supply chain needs to change…” Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN) organizer Martiza Silva-Farrell told the crowd. “This is a start.”
Wal-Mart had claimed that it had cut ties with the Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh, where the deadly blaze took place, but a report earlier this month revealed that Wal-Mart worked with at least five different suppliers there this year. Further, in 2011, the retail giant decided against aiding factory upgrades that could have stopped fires like the deadly blaze.
Another "Block the Boat" protest is scheduled for Thursday at the Port of Charleston. Activists there will also protest the arrival of Wal-Mart goods from Bangladesh, as well as the retail giant's low paying American jobs, and the use of foreign-made goods that lead to job losses here in the U.S.
Documents found among the ruins of the Bangladesh garment factory where over 100 people perished during a fire last month, show that Wal-Mart worked with at least five different suppliers there this year. Further, in 2011, the retail giant decided against aiding factory upgrades that could have stopped fires like the deadly blaze.
Bloomberg News reports:
Wal-Mart said the Tazreen Design Ltd. factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for the company and that it had cut ties with one supplier that kept using the facility. It’s not clear if any other suppliers continued to use the factory, which Wal-Mart had de-authorized before the blaze, the company said.
Purchase orders, shipment statements, inventory reports and other documents show that two New York-based suppliers for Wal- Mart and a third in California had sourced merchandise from Tazreen. Two companies in Bangladesh also manufactured apparel there for Wal-Mart, the records show. As recently as September, five of 14 production lines at the factory were making shirts and pajamas for Wal-Mart, an income report shows.
The Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity photographed the documents. The group passed them on to the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor-rights monitoring group based in Washington, which provided the documents to Bloomberg News. Suppliers cited in the documents include Topson Downs, of Culver City, California. That supplier subcontracted work to Bismillah Sourcing, a Bangladesh firm.
Also among the documents, an e-mail correspondence between a Wal-Mart buyer and IDG (Tazreen produced shorts for Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club brand through IDG) "highlighting the pressure the world’s largest retailer puts on its suppliers."
In a January e-mail, Wal-Mart's buyer requests and early delivery of 266 pairs of shorts from IDG for a new store opening, and IDG complied. Numerous other documents show that "tens of thousands" of the same pairs of shorts were made at Tazreen for IDG since at least the first quarter of 2012.
In 2011, Walmart reportedly decided against aiding factory upgrades that could have stopped fires like the deadly blaze at the Tazreen garment factory.
During an April meeting, Bangladeshi suppliers reached out to retailers of their garments with a plan that would help upgrade their facilities to make them more fire-proof -- other retailers approved the plan -- only to have it fall through when Wal-mart and the Gap refused to pay higher prices to make such upgrades feasible.
Another fire broke out at a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, two days after a blaze at a separate clothing factory killed at least 121 people.
The fire broke out on the third floor of the 12-story building, which houses four different garment factories. Some of the building’s workers are trapped on the rooftop, firefighters reported.
Al Jazeera reports that some workers had been trapped on the roof by the new fire, but authorities said that although they were still searching the building, they believed most had escaped and there were no reported deaths.
"We don't have any casualties but the firefighters will search the building and see whether anyone has been suffocated," said Nisharul Arif, Dhaka deputy commissioner of police.
About 15,000 Bangladeshi workers protested blocks from the gutted fire Monday, demanding justice for the victims and improved safety. Some 200 factories were closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, the capital.
Protesters blocked a major highway, and some threw stones at factories and smashed vehicles, but there were no arrests and no clashes with police.
More details emerge on the deadly garment factory fire on Saturday:
Survivor Mohammad Ripu said Monday that he tried to run out of the building when the fire alarm rang but was stopped.
"Managers told us, 'Nothing happened. The fire alarm had just gone out of order. Go back to work,'" Ripu said. "But we quickly understood that there was a fire. As we again ran for the exit point we found it locked from outside, and it was too late."
Ripu said he jumped from a second-floor window and suffered minor injuries.
Another surviving worker, Yeamin, who uses only one name, said fire extinguishers in the factory didn't work, "So these were meant just to impress the buyers or authority."
At least 112 employees of a Bangledesh garment factory perished in a blaze late Saturday after becoming trapped inside the building with no fire exits. The factory produced clothing for Wal-Mart, and other U.S. retailers. Were your Black Friday deals worth it?
There was no escape. A fire claimed 112 workers in a garment factory near the capital of Bangladesh late Saturday. A fire official said their last moments were spent in panic as they searched in vain for fire exits leading outside. “I want the factory owner to be hanged,” said one grieving mother who lost her daughter-in-law in the fire and whose son is still missing. “For him, many have died.” Firefighters have recovered 100 bodies from the gutted seven-story factory. Many of Bangladesh’s 4,000 garment shops lack proper fire protections.
"The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor," Mahbub said. "So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building."
"Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower," he said.
Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition. The recovered bodies were kept in rows on the premise of a nearby school.
Army soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed to help police keep the situation under control as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered at the scene, Mahbub said. He would not say how many people were still missing.
Bangladesh's garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.