Bangladesh Building Collapse Death Toll Hits 120, Hundreds Still Trapped

The death toll from a building collapse in Bangladesh has reached 120 and authorities have said hundreds more are likely still inside.

Broken concrete and twisted metal is all that remains of an eight-story commercial building that once housed five garment manufacturers that employed about 2,500 people.

While authorities are not yet sure what caused the building to collapse, several garment workers near the building’s ruins stated that a crack appeared on the seventh floor on Tuesday.

The workers added that managers ordered workers not to report to their jobs on Wednesday. However, the factory owners later changed their minds, saying the building was safe and to report to work.

Despite their hesitation, many workers did so, because they didn’t want to lose their jobs. Along with garment factories, the Savar branch of BRAC Bank and a shopping mall also rented space in the collapsed building. The bank’s employees were ordered not to show up on Wednesday and a strike had already shut down the shopping mall.

Because of this, it is likely the only people injured or killed in the Bangladesh building collapse were factory workers. The building’s second floor hosted a supplier to UK retailer Primark. The company released a statement about the collapse, saying:

“Primark has been engaged for several years with NGOs and other retailers to review the Bangladeshi industry’s approach to factory standards. Primark will push for this review to also include building integrity.”

The Bangladesh building collapse again underscored the unsafe conditions for garment factory workers in the country. The debate was reignited in November when a factory fire killed 112 workers. Abdur Rahim, who worked on the fifth floor of the collapsed building, said that a factory manager assured them there was no problem with the building, despite the severe cracks.

Rahim recalled, “We started working. After about an hour or so the building collapsed suddenly.” The next thing he remembered was regaining consciousness outside the building. Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir spoke with reporters at the site on Wednesday, saying that the building violated construction codes and that “the culprits would be punished.”

By Wednesday evening, the death toll of the Bangladesh building collapse was over 120. More than 600 people were rescued and hundreds were injured. The death toll is expected to rise.

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