Bangladeshi factory supplying to Primark collapses
At least 175 people have been killed and hundreds injured after Rana Plaza, an eight storey building that housed garment factories supplying UK high street brands like Primark, Matalan and Bonmarché collapsed in the Savar district of Bangladesh today.
The cracks were reported on Tuesday and both the industrial police and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association had asked the factories to suspend their work and evacuate the building until further examination.
However, ignoring the instructions of the industrial police, the owners of the garment factories reportedly assured their workers that the premises were safe and to continue work as normal.
The workers were hesitant to enter the building and said “the managers forced them to rejoin and just one hour after they had entered the factory on Wednesday the building collapsed with a huge noise”.
Rana Plaza employed 3,122 workers but it is not yet clear how many workers were in the building when it collapsed. Four garment factories occupied six of its eight floors. New Wave Style, the largest of the factories, lists international retailers Benetton, Primark, Mango and Bonmarché among its main buyers.
Primark has confirmed that one of its suppliers occupied the second floor of the building and in a statement said that “the company is shocked and deeply saddened by this appalling incident and expresses its condolences to all of those involved”.
Fire and army rescue teams are still at work. They have pulled as many as 1400 people still alive from the building and are supplying water, biscuits and oxygen through holes to many of those who are still trapped under the rubble.
Flags are at half-mast as the country mourns the nation’s worst factory disaster. It is the second incident in a year to hit Savar. Five months ago 112 people were killed after a fire broke at a garment factory that produced clothes for global brands.
The incident has once again highlighted the poor working conditions of workers and raises safety concerns in Bangladesh’s vital garment industry, the world’s second biggest clothing exporter.