Bangladesh Commercial Building Collapses, Scores Feared Dead

A commercial building in Bangladesh collapsed on Wednesday, leaving at least 25 people dead and injuring more than 500.

The building — which housed garment factories, a bank, and a shopping center — collapsed on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

Firefighters and army personnel worked frantically at the collapse site of the eight-story building to save people who were still trapped inside. Mohammad Asaduzzaman, officer in charge of the area’s police station, stated that the collapse happened at the Rana Plaza building in Savar.

Asaduzzaman added that factory owners appeared to have ignored a warning not to allow their workers into the building after a crack was detected in the block on Wednesday.

While crews are still working to access the building’s interior, reports say that only the ground floor remained intact. Fire official Md Jibon Mia stated, “We don’t know how many were inside the building, but it would be many.”

Bangladesh is known for its booming garment industry. Several well-known commercial brands have factories in the country — including Walmart, Sears, and JC Penney — because of cheap labor. But the industry is not well-regulated and accidents are not uncommon. A factory fire in an industrial suburb of Dhaka killed 112 workers last November.

The fire sparked protests across the country over the poor working conditions at Bangladesh’s garment factories. In the end, the country released a report saying that criminal charges for “unpardonable negligence” should be filed against the garment factory’s owner.

Main Uddin Khandaker, who led the inquiry, stated, “The owner of the factory cannot be indemnified from the death of large numbers of workers from this fire. Unpardonable negligence of the owner is responsible for the death of workers.” The fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory helped focus international attention on the unsafe working conditions of Bangladesh workers.

It is likely that the commercial building collapse on Wednesday will do the same thing. While 25 people have been confirmed dead, it is likely the death toll will rise as workers continue to search through the rubble near Dhaka, Bangladesh.