Deadliest garment factory collapse ever kills 1,138 and injures thousands more
“I felt a shock and the floor gave way. People started running in chaos and the ceiling came down. I kept protecting my head, but I got stuck between the rubble. My hand got stuck and I thought I would die. People around died.” - Shila Begum, a survivor of the Rana Plaza accident
The first signs of imminent danger appeared the day before, when cracks appeared in the walls of the building. The next morning, workers refused to enter the building due to fears of collapse, whilst those who worked in the banks and shops on the ground floor remained outside. The managers of the garment factories gave the workers a 'choice': work or go home and never come back. Around 9:00 AM the building collapsed.
The collapse was followed by a three-week intensive rescue effort, resulting in around 2,000 people being rescued from the building alive. Many were trapped under the tons of rubble, machinery and distorted steel of the collapsed building for hours or even days. Some could only be rescued by amputating their limbs. The workers produced clothes for well-known North American and European brands such as Benetton, Mango, The Children's Place, KiK, Primark, Walmart and Inditex, the parent company of Zara.
In September 2013 the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee was established, consisting of the government, local and international trade unions, non-governmental organisations and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as neutral chair. The committee worked to set up a process to support the victims and their families, resulting in the Rana Plaza Arrangement.
The Arrangement set up the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund to collect the necessary money to deliver financial support for loss of income and medical expenses to the Rana Plaza families and survivors by donations from global brands. An estimated US $40 million is needed to deliver the necessary support. At the time of writing the amount collected so far is just over US $17 million.