Unidentified victims of Bangladesh collapse buried

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm •  Published: May 1, 2013
Advertisement
;

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said businesses operating in the Rana Plaza appeared to have links to numerous companies in the U.S. and Europe. "We'll continue to engage with U.S. companies to discuss what role they can play in improving conditions," he told reporters. He did not give details on the companies.

Pressure built inside Bangladesh as well, as a raucous May Day procession of workers on foot, pickup trucks and motorcycles wound its way through central Dhaka demanding safe working conditions and capital punishment for the building's owner. They waved the national flag and banners, beat drums and chanted "Direct action!" and "Death penalty!"

From a loudspeaker on the back of a truck, a participant spoke for the group: "My brother has died. My sister has died. Their blood will not be valueless."

Some confusion remains over how many people are missing.

Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, a Dhaka district administrator, said so far 149 people have been listed missing. A police official, Aminur Rahman, said police have recorded up to 1,300 names as missing, but he cautioned that many may be duplicates. "We will now have to screen the names by computer to find the actual number," he said.

The owner of the building, Mohammed Sohel Rana, is under arrest and expected to be charged with negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work, which is punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail. Authorities have not said if more serious crimes will be added.

Protesters demanded capital punishment for Rana, 38, a small-time political operative with the ruling Awami League party.

"I want the death penalty for the owner of the building. We want regular salaries, raises and absolutely we want better safety in our factories," said Mongidul Islam Rana, 18, who works in a different garment factory.

The Bangladesh High Court has ordered the government to confiscate Rana's property and freeze the assets of the owners of the factories in Rana Plaza so the money can be used to pay the salaries of their workers.

Rana had permission to build five stories but added three more illegally. When huge cracks appeared in the building a day before its collapse, police ordered an evacuation, but Rana told tenants it was safe. The next day, a bank and some shops refused to open but factory managers told their workers to go back in. Hours later the building came down in a heap of concrete.

Among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms. Altogether, they produced several million shirts, pants and other garments a year.

___

Hossain wrote from Dhaka.