02/21/2015, 00.00
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Benetton backtracks and agrees to compensate Rana Plaza collapse victims

The Italian company had always denied any responsibility in the worst textile industry accident ever in Bangladesh. An online petition with more than one million signatures topples the clothing giant, which threatened to cause disruption during the Milan Fashion Week. 1,138 people died in the crash; more than 2 thousand were wounded.

Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Italian clothing group Benetton will contribute to the international fund for compensation for victims of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.  The collapse of the multistory factory caused the death of over a thousand people.

The clothing company's decision came after more than a million people signed an online petition on the website Avaaz, urging the group to pay to avoid " humiliating protests " during next week's fashion week in Milan. The giant was one of the brands that outsourced clothes production in the Rana Plaza complex, but that after the collapse had claimed it was "unconnected with the facts".

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza, an eight-story building, collapsed on itself. Despite having been declared unfit for use and unsafe, thousands of men and women were employed inside in five textile factories that supplied large international clothing chains. These include brands such as Benetton, Primark and Joe Fresh. In the collapse 1,138 people died and over 2 thousand were injured, most of whom underwent amputations or suffered permanent injuries.

Benetton has not said how much will contribute. However, it said it is working with "a third globally recognized party" to determine how much it will have to compensate the survivors and the families of the victims.

Following the tragedy, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) created the Rana Plaza Trust Fund to organize an international fund for compensation. So far it has collected 21 million dollars, but needs 9 million more to reach the pre-established figure.

Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing to the world after China. The textile industry accounts for over 10% of GDP and about 80% of exports, mostly to the US and Europe. Bangladesh has about 4,500 factories, which employ more than 2 million people. The collapse of Rana Plaza is considered the worst accident to have ever occurred in the country's textile sector.


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