Officials estimate that close to 100 people were killed near Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka Wednesday morning when an eight-story garment factory collapsed. Hundreds gathered at the site of the accident, where officials fear more remain trapped under the rubble. Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Haque reported that more than 600 people had been rescued, and hoped that more will be added to that number. Bangladesh has received harsh criticism for its factory conditions after two other deadly fires at garment factories in the past year -- one of which left 112 dead.
Five garment factories - employing mostly women - were housed in the building, including Ether Tex Ltd., whose chairman said he was unaware of any warnings not to open the workshops.
"There was some crack at the second floor, but my factory was on the fifth floor," Muhammad Anisur Rahman told Reuters. "The owner of the building told our floor manager that it is not a problem and so you can open the factory."
He initially said that his firm had been sub-contracted to supply Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, and Europe's C&A. In a subsequent interview he said he had been referring to an order in the past, not current work.
Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to requests for comment. C&A said that, based on its best information, it had no contractual relationship with any of the production units in the building that collapsed.
Buildings are reportedly sometimes erected without permission and many do not comply with construction regulations.