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In Bangladesh, a Frantic Search for Survivors After a Factory Collapse

In Bangladesh, a Frantic Search for Survivors After a Factory Collapse
Reuters

An eight-story building collapsed Wednesday morning in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, killing at least 70 and injuring scores more. And officials fear that hundreds may still be trapped in the rubble. As the New York Times described it:

Photographs showed rescue workers in hard hats climbing ladders into the destroyed structure, even as hundreds of people crowded outside, waiting to see if survivors could be pulled from the wreckage.

The collapse comes just five months after a fire at a different factory killed at least 112 garment workers; it has reignited a debate over the rights of garment workers the country over.

International brands like Walmart, Tommy Hilfiger, Sears and H&M produce clothes here, in part because it's so cheap. Bangladesh has the lowest minimum wage for garment workers in the world, set at just $37 a month.

Proponents say these sweatshops have brought the Bangladeshi economy to life. But labor rights activists charge their are too few protections for workers. Unions are actively discouraged -- a union organizer was tortured and murdered last month; his death remains unsolved. And conditions in many factories are downright dangerous.

As the Times reports:

Alonzo Suson, country director for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, a labor rights group, said Wednesday’s accident illustrated the repeated failure of government inspectors to ensure that safety standards were met.

“It is substandard construction, shortcut construction,” Mr. Suson said. “There was already a crack in the building.”

Below, scenes from the factory, via Reuters.


People carry the body of a garment worker, who was working in the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed, in Savar. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)


People mourn for their relatives, who are trapped inside the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, in Savar. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)


A relative holds a picture of a missing garment worker, who was working in the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed, in Savar, 19 miles outside Dhaka. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)


People rescue garment workers trapped under rubble at the Rana Plaza building after it collapsed. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

Amanda Erickson is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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