Dhaka building collapse: Factory owners arrested

REF: Two owners of garment factories in the building that collapsed on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka have surrendered to police.

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Mahbubur Rahman Tapas and Balzul Samad Adnan are suspected of forcing their staff to work in the building, ignoring warnings about cracks.

 

At least 323 people died after the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in the suburb of Savar collapsed on Wednesday.

On Saturday morning, 15 more people were rescued from the rubble.

This came after rescuers said they had located as many as 50 people still alive at various places on the third floor of the building.

The rescuers had also managed to pass oxygen cylinders and water to those who remained trapped in the rubble.

More than 3,000 people are believed to have been working in the building at the time of the collapse.

Although some 2,200 people have since been rescued, hundreds are still missing.

Violent protests

Mr Tapas and Mr Adnan, the owners of the New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style factories, turned themselves in to the police in the early hours of Saturday.

Deputy chief of Dhaka police Shyami Mukherjee said the two are accused of causing “death due to negligence”, according the Agence France-Presse news agency.

The owners reportedly told their employees to return to work on Wednesday, even though cracks were visible in the building a day earlier.

Three other clothing factories were reportedly operating in the building.

The owner of Rana Plaza is believed to have gone in hiding.

“Those who’re involved, especially the owner who forced the workers to work there, will be punished,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told lawmakers on Friday.

“Wherever he is, he will be found and brought to justice,” the prime minister added.

On Friday, at least 10,000 people joined protests calling for the arrest of the building’s owner and for the government to improve conditions for garment workers.

Police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to break up the crowds, who had blocked roads, torched buses and attacked textile factories.

Billion-dollar companies

Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world, providing cheap clothing for major Western retailers which benefit from its widespread low-cost labour.

Graph showing the growth in the number of people employed in garment factories in Bangladesh

But the industry has been widely criticised for its low pay and limited rights given to workers and for the often dangerous working conditions in garment factories.

Primark, a clothes retailer with a large presence in Britain, confirmed that one of its suppliers was on the second floor of the Rana Plaza, and said it would work with other retailers to review standards.

Labour rights groups say the companies have a moral duty to ensure their suppliers are providing safe conditions for their employees.

“These are billion-dollar companies. They have a huge amount of power to change the way that building safety is accepted here,” Gareth Price-Jones, Oxfam’s country director for Bangladesh, told Reuters.

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