KIARA BRAMASCO WRITES – The worst disaster to hit Bangladesh’s garment industry happened on Wednesday, April 24th with a death toll of 344 and counting. The media regarding Bangladesh is dominated by this story and rightly so. With unapproved construction of parts of the garment factory and ignored warnings of a fragile building, several people have been arrested in connection with this disaster.
The building called “Rana Plaza” in Savar, north of the capital Dhaka, had between 2,000 and 3,000 workers, most of them women, working in the building at the time it collapsed.The Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, highlighted the rescue efforts of professionals and civilians as they did their best to recover bodies from underneath the concrete slabs that once made up the nine-story building that housed a shopping center and six garment factories in its top floors.
The Economist, on the other hand, focused on the warning signs of the crumbling building, explaining that the police and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) warned the owner that the building was unsafe after cracks appeared on April 23rd, one day before the catastrophe. The owner of the “Rana Plaza”, Sohel Rana, has since been arrested along with five factory owners. The Daily Star reports that Rana could face life in prison if he is found guilty of “allowing garment owners to run their factories even after a crack developed in the building”.
The garment industry in Bangladesh has been plagued by many disasters, with this one having the most casualties. Only significant changes to improve workers’ safety can truly prevent another tragedy in this industry.