Four die, and 40 people still trapped in Bangladesh building collapse

A five-story cement factory under construction in Bangladesh collapsed Thursday, killing at least four workers. Many more are still trapped in the rubble.

The roof of a five-story cement factory under construction in Bangladesh collapsed Thursday, killing at least four workers and trapping many others, an official said.

About 150 workers were on duty when the collapse occurred in Mongla in Bagerhat district, fire official Mizanur Rahman said.

He said at least 40 people were rescued from under the debris and up to 40 others were feared trapped. Many of the survivors were hospitalized with injuries, Rahman said.

The cause of the collapse was still under investigation.

Survivors said 50-60 people were working on the roof while others were on the ground floor when the collapse occurred, local government administrator M. Jahangir Alam said. It was not clear how many were directly affected by the collapse.

The seaside factory, about 135 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Dhaka, is owned by an army welfare organization, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported.

In April 2013, a building housing garment factories collapsed in Dhaka, killing more than 1,100 people. Engineering surveys show that many Bangladesh factories violate building codes by using substandard materials or adding extra floors that the building foundations can't support.

After the 2013 tragedy, garment manufacturers in the US and Europe responded, but in different ways. As The Christian Science Monitor reported 

Clothing firms quickly came under activist and union pressure to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: a five-year, legally binding commitment from retailers, whose suppliers will be subject to independent inspections and public reports. A finance mechanism also requires each firm to contribute to safety upgrades, at a maximum of $2.5 million each over the five-year commitment.

Yet while major retailers across Europe, likeBritain’s Marks & Spencer, France’s Carrefour, and the Swedish giant H&M, have signed on, US clothing labels, for the most part, have carried on with business as usual. Only two big American firms have joined the pact.
“I think European companies are more aware of a need to be proactive for their reputations,” says Elisabeth Laville, who founded Utopies, a Paris-based consultancy that has helped various organizations in Europe and the US on corporate responsibility strategies. “American companies are betting on the fact that consumers will not change ... the way they buy.”

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