Photo by A.M. Ahad for Associated Press
Mohammed Sohel Rana, the fugitive owner of the eight-story building that collapsed and killed at least 385 people last week near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, was arrested Sunday by a commando force as he tried to flee to India. Meanwhile, a fire broke out at the site of the former Rana Plaza facility, which housed five garment factories, along with a bank and a shopping mall. THe blaze, which fire officials told reporters was likely the result of sparks from cutting equipment used by rescuers, complicates attempts to find any more survivors from the South Asian country’s worst industrial accident to date. About 2,500 people have been rescued from the wreckage, but hundreds of garment workers, mostly young women between the ages of 18 and 20, are still unaccounted for.
PREVIOUSLY ON ECOUTERRE: What Circumstances Led to the Bangladesh Factory Collapse?
Photo by Palash Khan for Associated Press
Rana was seized by the elite Rapid Action Battalion in the western Bangladesh border town of Benapole, bringing an end to a four-day manhunt that began when Rana Plaza imploded on Wednesday. Rana was brought back by helicopter to Dhaka, where he faced charges of negligence, faulty construction, and causing unlawful death.
Rana was brought back by helicopter to Dhaka, where he faced charges of negligence, faulty construction, and causing unlawful death.
Seven other people have been arrested in connection to the disaster, including four factory owners, two engineers, and Rana’s father, Abdul Khalek. Police are looking for a fifth factory owner, David Mayor, who they say is a Spanish citizen.
As Rana was led into court dressed in a helmet and a bulletproof jacket, witnesses said Bangladeshi lawyers and protesters chanted “hang him, hang him.” The court ordered Rana to be held for 15 days “on remand” for interrogation.
Photo by A.M. Ahad for Associated Press
On Monday, the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations in 15 European countries dedicated to improving working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industries, blasted Western brands and retailers for their failure to prevent such heavy loss of life just five months after the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire that killed at least 112 workers.
The Clean Clothes Campaign estimates a total compensation amount that is likely to exceed $30 million.
“Brands must now come forward, ensure emergency steps are taken and pay without delay into a compensation fund for the victims and their families.” the group said in a statement, estimating that a total compensation amount that is likely to exceed $30 million, in addition to the cost of emergency treatment. “They must also commit to prevent future disasters.”
Six brands have confirmed current or recent production: Bon Marché and Primark in the United Kingdom, El Corte Inglés and Mango in Spain, Joe Fresh from Canada’s Loblaw’s chain, and most recently, Italy’s Benetton, which previously denied its role until the Associated Press published pictures of garments with its labels in the rubble earlier today.
Benetton wrote on Twitter that it had completed and shipped out a “one-time order” from one of the plaza’s factories several weeks before the collapse. “Since then, this subcontractor has been removed from our supplier list,” it added.
Photo by Kevin Frayer for the Associated Press
CALL TO ACTION
Labor activists who combed through the debris also found labels, cutting orders, and other documentation linking a number of other brands to the plaza’s garment factories, including Cato Fashions, The Children’s Place, JCPenney, and Walmart in the United States, and Carrefour in France. So far, all have either denied production, failed to respond, or are in the process of “investigating” if they were involved.
“Workers need a structural solution, not a quick-fix,” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
“Brands can no longer justify any further delay in signing the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement,” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign, referring to a legally binding, first-of-its-kind contract developed by Bangladeshi and global unions and labor-rights organizations to govern health-and-safety inspections at thousands of facilities in Bangladesh. “Since Tazreen, where 112 people died, brands have come up with insufficient proposals such as safety videos (H&M) or a safety academy (Walmart). How much safety does a video provide, when floors collapse or emergency exits do not exist? Workers need a structural solution, not a quick-fix. The lack of action demonstrated by brands amounts to criminal negligence.”