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"I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. 
"Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. 
"When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives. 
"…This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen."

— Photographer TASLIMA AKHTER, on his photo of man and a woman discovered in a final embrace amidst the rubble of a fatal building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh.
(via Time Magazine)

"I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically.

"Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear.

"When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.

"…This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen."

— Photographer TASLIMA AKHTER, on his photo of man and a woman discovered in a final embrace amidst the rubble of a fatal building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh.

(via Time Magazine)

From the New York Times:

Barely 20 miles from the national capital, this gritty suburb is now a dusty, chaotic industrial center littered with factories that produce clothes for leading Western brands. Building codes are often unenforced, regulatory oversight is flimsy and the men wielding power often travel with armed guards.
And perhaps no one wielded power more brazenly than Sohel Rana. He traveled by motorcycle, as untouchable as a mafia don, trailed by his own biker gang. Local officials and the Bangladeshi news media say he was involved in illegal drugs and guns, but he also had a building, Rana Plaza, that housed five factories. 
Upstairs, workers earned as little as $40 a month making clothes for retailers like J. C. Penney. Downstairs, Mr. Rana hosted local politicians, playing pool, drinking and, the officials say, indulging in drugs. 
Now Mr. Rana, 35, is under arrest, the most reviled man in Bangladesh after the horrific collapse of Rana Plaza last week left nearly 400 people dead, with many others still missing. On Tuesday, a top Bangladeshi court seized his assets, as the public bayed for his execution, especially as it appears that the tragedy could have been averted if the frantic warnings of an engineer who examined the building the day before had been heeded. 
But if Mr. Rana has been vilified, he is partly a creation of the garment era in Bangladesh, during which global businesses have arrived in search of cheap labor to keep profits high and costs low. Directly or indirectly, international brands are now sometimes interlinked with men like Mr. Rana, and placed at risk by them. 
Global apparel companies often depict their international supply chains as tightly scrutinized systems to ensure that clothing sold to American buyers is produced in safe, monitored factories. Yet their inspectors usually check safety factors and working conditions, but not the soundness of the buildings themselves, and the companies often have little control over the subcontractors who do much of the work.

(Photo of Sohel Rana, in handcuffs and protected with a police helmet, by Strdel / AFP / Getty Images via the Times)

From the New York Times:

Barely 20 miles from the national capital, this gritty suburb is now a dusty, chaotic industrial center littered with factories that produce clothes for leading Western brands. Building codes are often unenforced, regulatory oversight is flimsy and the men wielding power often travel with armed guards.

And perhaps no one wielded power more brazenly than Sohel Rana. He traveled by motorcycle, as untouchable as a mafia don, trailed by his own biker gang. Local officials and the Bangladeshi news media say he was involved in illegal drugs and guns, but he also had a building, Rana Plaza, that housed five factories.

Upstairs, workers earned as little as $40 a month making clothes for retailers like J. C. Penney. Downstairs, Mr. Rana hosted local politicians, playing pool, drinking and, the officials say, indulging in drugs.

Now Mr. Rana, 35, is under arrest, the most reviled man in Bangladesh after the horrific collapse of Rana Plaza last week left nearly 400 people dead, with many others still missing. On Tuesday, a top Bangladeshi court seized his assets, as the public bayed for his execution, especially as it appears that the tragedy could have been averted if the frantic warnings of an engineer who examined the building the day before had been heeded.

But if Mr. Rana has been vilified, he is partly a creation of the garment era in Bangladesh, during which global businesses have arrived in search of cheap labor to keep profits high and costs low. Directly or indirectly, international brands are now sometimes interlinked with men like Mr. Rana, and placed at risk by them.

Global apparel companies often depict their international supply chains as tightly scrutinized systems to ensure that clothing sold to American buyers is produced in safe, monitored factories. Yet their inspectors usually check safety factors and working conditions, but not the soundness of the buildings themselves, and the companies often have little control over the subcontractors who do much of the work.

(Photo of Sohel Rana, in handcuffs and protected with a police helmet, by Strdel / AFP / Getty Images via the Times)

A building housing several factories making clothing for European and American consumers collapsed into a deadly heap on Wednesday, killing at least 108 workers and injuring at least 1,000 people.  The catastrophe comes only five months after a horrific fire at a similar facility prompted leading multinational brands to pledge to work to improve safety in the country’s booming but poorly regulated garment industry.  (Photo: AM Ahad / AP via The New York Times; caption via The Times)

A building housing several factories making clothing for European and American consumers collapsed into a deadly heap on Wednesday, killing at least 108 workers and injuring at least 1,000 people.  The catastrophe comes only five months after a horrific fire at a similar facility prompted leading multinational brands to pledge to work to improve safety in the country’s booming but poorly regulated garment industry.  (Photo: AM Ahad / AP via The New York Times; caption via The Times)

The fire alarm shattered the monotony of the Tazreen Fashions factory. Hundreds of seamstresses looked up from their machines, startled. On the third floor, Shima Akhter Pakhi had been stitching hoods onto fleece jackets. Now she ran to a staircase.

But two managers were blocking the way. Ignore the alarm, they ordered. It was just a test. Back to work. A few women laughed nervously. Ms. Pakhi and other workers returned to their sewing tables. She could stitch a hood to a jacket in about 90 seconds. She arranged the fabric under her machine. Ninety seconds. Again. Ninety more seconds. She sewed six pieces, maybe seven.

Then she looked up.

Smoke was filtering up through the three staircases. Screams rose from below. The two managers had vanished. Power suddenly went out throughout the eight-story building. There was nowhere to escape. The staircases led down into the fire. Iron grilles blocked the windows. A man cowering in a fifth-floor bathroom called his mother to tell her he was about to die.

“We all panicked,” Ms. Pakhi said. “It spread so quickly. And there was no electricity. It was totally dark.”

Tazreen Fashions Ltd. operated at the beginning of the global supply chain that delivers clothes made in Bangladesh to stores in Europe and the United States. By any measure, the factory was not a safe place to work. Fire safety preparations were woefully inadequate. The building itself was under construction — even as sewing work continued inside — and mounds of flammable yarn and fabric were illegally stored on the ground floor near electrical generators.

Yet Tazreen was making clothing destined for some of the world’s top retailers. On the third floor, where firefighters later recovered 69 bodies, Ms. Pakhi was stitching sweater jackets for C&A, a European chain. On the fifth floor, workers were making Faded Glory shorts for Walmart. Ten bodies were recovered there. On the sixth floor, a man named Hashinur Rahman put down his work making True Desire lingerie for Sears and eventually helped save scores of others. Inside one factory office, labor activists found order forms and drawings for a licensee of the United States Marine Corps that makes commercial apparel with the Marines’ logo.

In all, 112 workers were killed in a blaze last month that has exposed a glaring disconnect among global clothing brands, the monitoring system used to protect workers and the factories actually filling the orders. After the fire, Walmart, Sears and other retailers made the same startling admission: They say they did not know that Tazreen Fashions was making their clothing.

But who, then, is ultimately responsible when things go so wrong?

The New York Times, “Horrific Fire Revealed a Gap In Safety for Global Brands”

A fire inside a multi-story garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh killed at least 111 people.  Most of the workers inside the building died on the first and second floors, where there were not enough exits — and those that did exist did not open to the outside.  Bangladesh is the second largest clothes exporter after China, and has a notorious safety record; more than 500 workers have died in factory fires there since 2006.  (Photo: Abir Abdullah / EPA via The New York Times)

A fire inside a multi-story garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh killed at least 111 people.  Most of the workers inside the building died on the first and second floors, where there were not enough exits — and those that did exist did not open to the outside.  Bangladesh is the second largest clothes exporter after China, and has a notorious safety record; more than 500 workers have died in factory fires there since 2006.  (Photo: Abir Abdullah / EPA via The New York Times)

guardian:

Dhaka, Bangladesh: A child dressed as Krishna takes part in Janmashtami celebrations. Photograph: Pavel Rahman/AP

guardian:

Dhaka, Bangladesh: A child dressed as Krishna takes part in Janmashtami celebrations. Photograph: Pavel Rahman/AP