Under the Rubble – The Rana Plaza Collapse
Update March 2014
Under the Rubble is a long term work that Suvra Kanti Das has been completing over a year since the tragedy
The Rana Plaza that had four garments, a bank, and commercial shops including electronics, clothes, collapsed in the morning around 8.30 AM of the 24th April 2013, just after garments workers were forced to join work. Rescue operations ended on 13 May with a final death toll of 1,130. Approximately 2,500 injured people were extracted from inside the building. 291 bodies remained without identification. 300 people are still missing.
The disaster is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history and the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.
The building contained clothing factories, a bank, and several other shops. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed after some cracks were discovered in the building. Warnings to avoid using the building after the cracks appeared a day before had been ignored. Garments workers were ordered to return the following day and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
The building collapsed into itself around 9 am, leaving only the ground floor intact. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president confirmed that 3,122 workers were inside the building when the upper floors crumbled on top of each other.
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.
Within hours from the tragedy happened, 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 the Dhaka authorities. 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. And then on 10 May, 17 days after the collapse, a woman named Reshma was found and rescued alive and almost unhurt under the rubble. The relatives of the missing people still believe that one day their sons, daughters or parents will return. On average, every year more than 100 garments workers die due to fire or building collapse. This an importan matter of concern for the whole Bangladesh where factories are not equipped nor ready to face any hazard/accident like fire. In the majority of the cases no training season are performed to face situations such as fires or earthquakes. In the recent years the count of accidents resulting in a great number of casualties increased at an alarming rate. All the Bangladeshis people demand and deserve much higher levels of safety and control standards for the industrial working environment, now.
All Photos: Suvra Kanti Das / UnFrame
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