shutterstock_107860388The death toll from the eight story building collapse in Bangladesh last Wednesday has passed 500, making it the worst industrial disaster in the country’s history.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the collapse. An initial investigation found that the top four floors of the eight story building had been constructed illegally without permits. The factories also opened despite a crack discovered in the building.

No survivors have been recovered from the debris in the last four days, yet many families and relatives are still waiting near the wreckage for any news. Bodies that had begun decomposing or were too damaged to identify have already been buried.

Approximately 80% of the garment factory workforce in Bangladesh are women who are often responsible for providing for their families. Under grueling working conditions, workers in garment factories can make as little as $26 a month.

Outrage over the conditions of garment factories in Bangladesh gained international headlines in November of 2012 when 112 workers died during a fire in a factory that was producing clothes for Walmart and other Western retailers. An official investigation ruled that the fire was deliberately started and determined that up to nine officials prevented workers from leaving the building and even padlocked exits.

Media Resources: BBC 5/3/2013; Reuters 5/3/2013; Feminist Newswire 4/29/2013, 4/25/2013

The Bangladesh flag painted on wooden fence from Shutterstock

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