DHAMRAI: A few hundred workers, activists and relatives of victims of a 2013 garment factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,134 people and left thousands injured held a rally Tuesday as the country marked the fifth anniversary of the disaster.
Protesters placed flowers at a makeshift monument near the abandoned factory site, just outside the capital Dhaka, and urged that the owner of the collapsed building, imprisoned on murder charges, be given the death penalty.
The Rana Plaza factory building was expanded illegally, with extra floors stacked one on top of another. An engineer had declared it unsafe, and the thousands of people who worked inside, stitching garments for clothing brands from around the world, knew it was trouble.
“That factory was very risky,” said Khadiza Begum, who was working there the day the complex collapsed. “It had weak pillars. It had narrow stairwells. It had no fire exits.”
“We saw cracks in the building before it collapsed on us,” she said.
The tragedy killed 1,134 people, many of them young women supporting extended families, and injured more than 2,500. It focused international attention on Bangladesh’s role as the world’s second-largest garment producer, and led the government and manufacturing associations to promise big improvements.
Many of the world’s top clothing brands said they would stop contracting with factories if they failed to improve safety for their workers. European and U.S. brands set up programs meant to improve safety.