2013 Savar building collapse
Aerial view of the building following the disaster
|Time||08:45 am BST (UTC+06:00)|
|Date||24 April 2013|
|Also known as||Rana plaza building collapse|
On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district in the Greater Dhaka Area, the capital of Bangladesh. The search for the dead ended on 13 May with a death toll of 1,129. Approximately 2,515 injured people were rescued from the building alive.
The building contained clothing factories, a bank, apartments, and several other shops. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed after cracks were discovered in the building. Warnings to avoid using the building after cracks appeared the day before had been ignored. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
The building, Rana Plaza, was owned by Sohel Rana, allegedly a leading member of the local Jubo League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League political party. It housed a number of separate garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank. The factories manufactured apparel for brands including Benetton, Bonmarché, the Children's Place, El Corte Inglés, Joe Fresh, Monsoon Accessorize, Mango, Matalan, Primark, and Walmart.
The head of the Bangladesh Fire Service & Civil Defense, Ali Ahmed Khan, said that the upper four floors had been built without a permit. Rana Plaza's architect, Massood Reza, said the building was planned for shops and offices – but not factories. Other architects stressed the risks involved in placing factories inside a building designed only for shops and offices, noting the structure was potentially not strong enough to bear the weight and vibration of heavy machinery.
On Tuesday 23 April 2013, a TV channel recorded footage showing cracks in the Rana Plaza building and the building was evacuated. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed. Later in the day, Sohel Rana said to the media that the building was safe and workers should return tomorrow. Managers at Ether Tex threatened to withhold a month's pay from workers who refused to come to work.
Collapse and rescue
On the morning of 24 April, a Wednesday, morning there was a power cut and diesel generators on the top floor were started. The building collapsed at about 08:57am, leaving only the ground floor intact. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president confirmed that 3,122 workers were in the building at the time of the collapse. One local resident described the scene as if "an earthquake had struck."
Within hours of the collapse, the United Nations offered to send expert rescue teams with dogs, micro-cameras and other equipment to the site, but this offer was rejected by Dhaka authorities.
One of the garment manufacturers' websites indicates that more than half of the victims were women, along with a number of their children who were in nursery facilities within the building. Bangladeshi Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir confirmed that army, fire service personnel, Police and Rapid Action Battalion troops were assisting with the rescue effort. Volunteer rescue workers used bolts of fabric to assist survivors to escape from the building. A national day of mourning was held on 25 April.
On 8 May an army spokesman, Mir Rabbi, said the army's attempt to recover more bodies from the rubble would continue for at least another week. On 10 May, 17 days after the collapse, a woman named Reshma was found and rescued alive and almost unhurt under the rubble.
The day after the Rana Plaza building collapse, the Dhaka city development authority filed a case against the owners of the building and the five garment factories operating inside it. On the same day, dozens of survivors were discovered in the remains of the building. Although at first Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had denied the membership of Rana in the Jubo League, after intense criticism of her speech she ordered the arrest of Sohel Rana and four of the owners of the garment factories operating in the building. Sohel Rana was reported to have gone into hiding; however, authorities reported that four other individuals had already been arrested in connection with the collapse. Police finally arrested Rana in Jessore District in western Bangladesh on 28 April.
Two days after the building collapse, garment workers across the industrial areas of Dhaka, Chittagong and Gazipur rioted, targeting vehicles, commercial buildings and garment factories. The next day, leftist political parties and the BNP-led 18 Party Alliance demanded the arrest and trial of suspects and an independent commission to identify vulnerable factories. Four days after the building collapsed, the owner of the Rana Plaza, Sohel Rana, was arrested at Benapole, on the Indo-Bangladeshi border, in Jessore District by security forces. On the same day a fire broke out at the disaster site and authorities were forced to temporarily suspend the search for survivors.
On 1 May on International Workers' Day, protesting workers paraded through central Dhaka by the thousands to demand safer working conditions and the death penalty for the owner of Rana Plaza. A week later hundreds of survivors of Bangladesh's worst industrial disaster blocked a main highway to demand wages, as the death toll from the collapse of a nine-storey building passed 700. Local government officials said they had been in talks with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to pay the workers their outstanding April salaries plus a further three months – £97. After officials promised the surviving workers that they would be soon paid, they ended their protest. The government and garment association were compiling a list of surviving employees to establish who must be paid and compensated. The next day, 18 garment plants, including 16 in Dhaka and two in Chittagong, were closed down. Textile minister, Abdul Latif Siddique, told reporters that more plants would be shut as part of strict new measures to ensure safety.
On 5 June, police in Bangladesh opened fire on hundreds of former workers and relatives of the victims of the collapse who were protesting to demand back pay and compensation promised by the government and the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
On 10 June, seven inspectors were suspended and accused of negligence for renewing the licenses of garment factories in the building that collapsed.
On 22 September, at least 50 people were injured when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd of protesters who were blocking streets in Dhaka demanding a minimum wage of $100 (8,114 takas) a month. In November, a 10-story garment factory in Gazipur, which supplied Western brands, was allegedly burned down by workers angered over rumours of a colleague's death in police firing.
In March 2014 Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana was granted six months' bail in the High Court. This prompted angry reactions from labour leaders. However, Rana will not be released from jail as another case filed by police is pending.
Nick Clegg, current UK Deputy PM and leader of the Liberal Democrats said: "... there's more we could do to talk about what goes on behind the scenes and this terrible catastrophe might well prompt people to think again."
Michael Connarty, UK's Falkirk East MP, is calling on the UK Government to push through new legislation to end modern day slavery by forcing major High Street companies in the UK to audit their supply chain. The framework requests that those companies make vigorous checks to ensure slave labour is not used in third world countries and the UK to produce their goods.
Karel De Gucht, current European Commissioner for Trade, warned that retailers and the Bangladeshi government could face action from the EU if nothing is done to improve the conditions of workers – adding that shoppers should also consider where they are spending their money.
On 1 May, Pope Francis spoke out against the working conditions in the factory:
A headline that really struck me on the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh was 'Living on 38 euros a month'. That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour. Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation! Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!
Human Rights Watch stated their concern over the number of factory-building tragedies in Bangladesh; there have been numerous major accidents in the country in the past decade, including the 2012 Dhaka fire.
Industrial Global Union, a global union federation representing textile and garment workers' trade unions around the world, launched an online campaign in support of the Bangladeshi unions' demand for labour law reform in the wake of the disaster. The campaign, hosted on Labour Start, calls for changes in the law to make it easier for unions to organise workers, as well as demanding improved health and safety conditions.
On 27 April, protesters surrounded Primark store on Oxford Street in the City of Westminster in the West End of London. Speaking outside the store, Murray Worthy, from campaign group War on Want, said:
- ‘We’re here to send a clear message to Primark that the 300 deaths in the Bangladesh building collapse were not an accident – they were entirely preventable deaths. If Primark had taken its responsibility to those workers seriously, no one need have died this week.’
There have been monthly protests at Benetton's flagship store at Oxford Circus in London since the one year anniversary of the collapse. Benetton initially denied reports linking production of their clothing at the factory, but clothes and documents linked to Benetton was discovered at the disaster site. The protesters are demanding that Benetton contribute to the compensation fund, which they have not yet done.
Dozens of consumers in the United States spoke out against unsafe working conditions found in the factory building. People also unleashed their anger at retailers that did not have any connections to that specific building, but are known to source from factories located in Bangladesh.
Fashion industry response
At a meeting of retailers and NGOs a week after the collapse, a new Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh was created and a deadline of 16 May was set to sign it. The agreement expands on a previous accord signed only by the US-based PVH, which owns Calvin Klein, and German retailer Tchibo.
Walmart, along with 14 other North American companies, refused to sign the accord as the deadline passed. As of 23 May 2013, thirty-eight companies had signed the accord. Walmart, J.C. Penney and labour activists have been considering an agreement to improve factory safety in Bangladesh for at least two years. In 2011, Walmart rejected reforms that would have had retailers pay more for apparel to help Bangladesh factories improve safety standards.
On 10 July 2013, a group of 17 major North American retailers, including Walmart, Gap, Target and Macy's, announced a plan to improve factory safety in Bangladesh, drawing immediate criticism from labour groups who complained that it was less stringent than an accord reached among European companies. Unlike the accord joined mainly by European retailers, the plan lacks legally binding commitments to pay for those improvements.
Dov Charney the founder & CEO of American Apparel was interviewed on Vice.tv and spoke out against the poor treatment of workers in developing countries and refers to it as "slave labor." Charney proposes a "Global Garment Workers Minimum Wage" as well discusses in detail many of the inner workings of the modern Fast fashion industry commerce practices that leads to dangerous factory conditions like at Savar
Compensation to victims
As of mid-September 2013, compensations to families of disaster victims were still under discussion, with many families struggling to survive after having lost a major wage earner. Families who had received the $200 compensation from Primark were only those able to provide DNA evidence of their relative's death in the collapse, which proved extremely difficult. The US government provided DNA kits to the families of victims.
Of the 29 brands identified as having sourced products from the Rana Plaza factories, only 9 attended meetings held in November 2013 to agree a proposal on compensation to the victims. Several companies refused to sign including Walmart, Carrefour, Mango, Auchan and Kik. The agreement was signed by Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarche and El Corte Ingles. By March 2014, seven of the 28 international brands sourcing products from Rana Plaza had contributed to the Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund compensation fund, which is backed by the International Labour Organization.
The Savar building collapse has led to widespread discussions about corporate social responsibility across global supply chains. Based on an analysis of the Savar incident, Wieland and Handfield (2013) suggest that companies need to audit products and suppliers and that supplier auditing needs to go beyond direct relationships with first-tier suppliers. They also demonstrate that visibility must be improved if supply cannot be directly controlled, and that smart and electronic technologies play a key role to improve visibility. Finally, they highlight that collaboration with local partners, across the industry and with universities is crucial to successfully managing social responsibility in supply chains.
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati, an organization working for the welfare of the workers, has called on the government, international buyers and factory owners to compensate survivors and victims' families. The group has also asked that April 24 be declared Labor Safety Day in the country.
Global labor and rights groups have criticized Western retailers and say they are not doing enough to ensure the safety at factories where their clothes are made. The companies linked to the Rana Plaza disaster include the Spanish brand Mango, Italian brand Benetton and French retailer Auchan.
In April 2014, international news coverage reported that thousands of people gathered at an event held to commemorate the one year anniversary of the disaster.
- Final Embrace
- Collapse of Rana Plaza
- Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh
- Other garment factory disasters:
- Other building collapses:
- "It crumbles like a pack of cards". The Daily Star. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Guardian "Bangladeshi factory deaths spark action among high-street clothing chains; death toll 1,129". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "Bangladesh building collapse death toll over 800". BBC. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Sarah Butler (23 June 2013). "Bangladeshi factory deaths spark action among high-street clothing chains | The Observer". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Bangladesh collapse search over; death toll 1,127". Yahoo News. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Advertise on NYTimes.com Bangladesh Factory Collapse Death Toll Hits 1,021". The New York Times. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh building collapse death toll passes 500". BBC News. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh Building Collapse Death Toll Tops 500; Engineer Whistleblower Arrested". Huffington Post. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "80 dead, 800 hurt in Savar high-rise collapse". bdnews24.com. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Mullen, Jethro (24 April 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse kills at least 80". CNN. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Nelson, Dean (24 April 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse kills at least 82 in Dhaka". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Savar Juba League dissolved". bdnews24.com. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Zain Al-Mahmood, Syed (24 April 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse kills at least 76 garment workers". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- O'Connor, Clare. "'Extreme Pricing' At What Cost? Retailer Joe Fresh Sends Reps To Bangladesh As Death Toll Rises". Forbes. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Rebecca Smithers (29 April 2013). "Benetton admits link with firm in collapsed Bangladesh building | World news". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Greenhouse, Steven (13 May 2013). "Major Retailers Join Bangladesh Safety Plan". The New York Times.
- Steve Robson (10 May 2013). "Bangladesh survivor Reshma Akhter changed into dead colleagues' clothes while trapped in the rubble". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Scores die as factory for clothing stores collapses". The Irish Independent. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Alam, Julhas (24 April 2013). "At least 87 dead in Bangladesh building collapse". USA Today. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Greenhouse, Steven (14 May 2013). "Wal-Mart Announces Its Own Factory Safety Plan in Bangladesh". The New York Times.
- Johnson, Kay and Alam, Julhas (26 April 2013). Major Retailers Rejected Bangladesh Factory Safety Plan. Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- Yardley, Jim (24 April 2013). "Building Collapse in Bangladesh Leaves Scores Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- David Blair, David Bergman (3 May 2013). "Bangladesh: Rana Plaza architect says building was never meant for factories". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Workers forced to join work". The Daily Star. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "'Suddenly the Floor Wasn't There,' Factory Survivor Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Case filed against owners of collapsed building in Dhaka". itv.com. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "At least 100 killed and many more hurt in Bangladesh factory collapse". London Evening Standard. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Bergman, David (30 April 2013). "UN offered expert rescue team within hours after building collapse". New Age. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh Dhaka building collapse: pictures". MSN. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Devnath, Arun. "Bangladesh Garment Factory Building Collapse Toll Reaches 782". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Woman Rescued in Bangladesh Rubble 2 Weeks After Collapse". The New York Times. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- "Dhaka building collapse: Woman pulled alive from rubble". BBC. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Rahman, Rafiqur (10 May 2013). "Woman pulled alive from rubble of Bangladesh factory". Reuters. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Bangladesh factory collapse survivor pulled from rubble after 17 days trapped". CBS News. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Dhaka building collapse: Dozens found alive in rubble". BBC News. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Arrest Rana, four factory owners". The Daily Star. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- "Arrest of Rana, 5 RMG unit owners ordered". Bdnews24.com. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- "4 arrested, others questioned after deadly Bangladesh building collapse". CNN. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Garment workers remain restive". The Daily Star. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "18-party, lefts call hartal for May 2". The Daily Star. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Rana arrested from Benapole". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Savar Tragedy, Sohel Rana Arrested". dhakastar.com. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Savar tragedy building owner held in Benapole". Daily Star. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Dhaka building collapse: Owner Mohammed Sohel Rana 'arrested'". BBC. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Alam, Julhas and Blake, Chris (28 April 2013). "Bangladesh Building Collapse: Fire Breaks Out In Factory Wreckage". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Blake, Chris and Hossian, Farid (1 May 2013). "Bangladesh Building Collapse: Protesters Demand Worker Safety As Death Toll Tops 400" Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Survivors demand wages after building collapse". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh building collapse death toll passes 700". BBC. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Bergman, Nelson, David, Dean (7 May 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse: Dhaka buildings not given final safety clearance". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh shuts 18 garment factories after disaster". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Burke, Jason and Hammadi, Saad (5 June 2013). Bangladesh police open fire at collapsed garment factory protest. The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "BANGLADESH SAYS 7 FAILED TO CHECK DOOMED FACTORIES". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Police Fire Rubber Bullets At Bangladesh Factory Protesters Demanding Higher Wages The Huffington Post, 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- Serajul Quadir (29 November 2013).Huge Bangladesh fire destroys key garments factory. Reuters. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- "Building Code Violation Case. Bail for Rana Plaza owner". The Daily Star (Dhaka). 24 March 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
- Mason, Rowena (1 May 2013). "Nick Clegg: I shop in Primark without a 'moral calculator'". The Telegraph (London).
- "Abolish slave trade, 7 May 2013". Falkirkherald.co.uk. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Hastings, Rob (6 May 2013). "Top EU official: British MPs know nothing about Europe and pulling out of the EU would be 'a clear disaster' for Britain". The Independent (London). Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Pope Francis Condemns 'Slave Labor' In Bangladesh: 'Goes Against God'. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Oxfam reaction to the Savar building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- "Tragedy shows urgency of worker protections: HRW". The Daily Star. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Make garment factories in Bangladesh safe". Labour Start. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Metro UK (27 April 2013). "Protesters surround Primark store on Oxford Street following Bangladesh factory deaths". Metro. UK. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Benetton denies to have any involvement with Bangladesh factory in their Tweet".
- Tichborne, Beth (2014-04-26). "Benetton stores targeted by global protests". Indymedia UK.
- Factory Collapse in Bangladesh. Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Fox, Emily Jane (1 May 2013). "Shoppers lash out at stores over Bangladesh". CNN Money. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Greenhouse, Steven (13 May 2013). "Major Retailers Join Bangladesh Safety Plan". The New York Times.
- Bangladesh Factory Safety Accord: At Least 14 Major North American Retailers Decline To Sign. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Global brands pull together on Bangladesh safety deal". IndustriALL press release. 23 May 2013.
- Greenhouse, Steven (5 December 2012). Documents Indicate Walmart Blocked Safety Push in Bangladesh. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- Steven Greenhouse & Stephanie Clifford (10 July 2013). "U.S. Retailers Offer Plan for Safety at Factories". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Dov Charney on Modern Day Sweat Shops: VICE Podcast 006".
- "Garment makers to discuss Bangladesh compensation". BBC News. 11 September 2013.
- Dhaka factory collapse: No compensation without DNA identificationBy Jane Deith, BBC News, Dhaka, 16 September 2013,http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24080579
- Ovi, Ibrahim Hossain (2013), Buyers' compensation for Rana Plaza victims far from reality, retrieved 16 December 2013
- Aulakh, Raveena (14 March 2014). "Rana Plaza compensation fund short millions". Toronto Star (Star Media Group). Retrieved 15 March 2014.
- Andreas Wieland and Robert B. Handfield (2013): The Socially Responsible Supply Chain: An Imperative for Global Corporations. Supply Chain Management Review, Vol. 17, No. 5.
- "Thousands mourn collapse victims of Rana Plaza garment factory one year on". Deutsche Welle. 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2013 Savar building collapse.|
- Help the humanitarian relief effort in Savar | Industriall—IndustriALL Global Union
- Heartbreaking Bangladesh Factory Photo Shows Couple In Final Embrace (PHOTO). The Huffington Post. 8 May 2013.
- Smile, Work and Die. Vijay Prashad. Truthdig. 26 April 2013.
- Bangladesh factory collapse: Clothes made for a tenth of retail price, documents show | Toronto Star—Toronto Star, Tuesday, 14 May 2013
- Will Retailers Invest in Safer Conditions in Bangladesh? – YouTube (7:43)—PBS NewsHour interview
- Doug Miller (5 February 2013). "Towards Sustainable Labour Costing in UK Fashion Retail". Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse, Washington Post, 2014.04.18
- 'Without stronger unions, Rana Plaza will happen time and time again'. The Guardian. 24 April 2014.