Bangladesh factory disaster: the real price of cheap clothes

On 24 April, the collapse of garment factory near the Bangladeshi capital claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people, mainly young women, and injured over 2,500 in the country’s worst industrial accident ever. Reshma Begum, a 19-year old seamstress, was the last person to be pulled alive from the ruins, 17 days after the disaster, before the search for survivors was called off on 13 May and bulldozers sent in to clear the rubble. About 700 bodies have been returned to families; the government has buried the bodies of those who could not be identified and a makeshift morgue has been established in a nearby school to store another 100 or so bodies for DNA identification.

 

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Bangladesh: textile tragedy

On 24 November 2012, one of the worst ever factory fires to hit Bangladesh killed at least 124 people with the death toll still rising in a factory in Ashulia, near Dhaka. Over 1,000 nightshift workers were trapped inside the multi-storey building after being unable to escape after the blaze, which started on the ground floor and was thought to be caused by faulty wiring, blocked off all three stairwells within. The factory has no emergency exits. Hundreds sought refuge on the roof until they were rescued by firefighters, however many, in a desperate attempt to flee, jumped out of windows but were injured or killed. After a five hour fight to control the flames, about 100 bodies were discovered on the second floor but factory owners remain quiet about how many workers are still missing.

 

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Bangladesh: the Tipaimukh damned

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

Beginning from the Manipur Hills in north east India, the Barak River, at 560 miles long, is one of the major rivers in southern Assam and within the Manipur territory. The Barak flows though Manipur, entering Bangladesh and forming the Surma Basin. Continuing south through Bangladesh as the Meghna River, it eventually reaches the Bay of Bengal. The Tipaimukh dam, first proposed in 1972, will be built along the Manipur-Mizoram border, about 100km away from the India-Bangladesh border.

 

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Superprofits from Bangladeshi workers

FRFI 216 August/September 2010

At least 800,000 people work at more than 1,000 factories in Ashulia, 20 miles north of Dhaka. Factories there turned out £8 billion worth of clothes last year – nearly 80% of the country's total exports. Much of their output ends up in UK stores. Marks & Spencer sources from three factories in the area where the protests took place. Bangladesh has been one of the fastest growing zones of production over the past two years, as other Asian countries, particularly southern China, became too expensive for western retailers after wages rose 30% this year.

 

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