04/27/2013, 00.00
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Rana Plaza collapse, two owners-blackmailers arrested

by Nozrul Islam
Mahbubur Rahman Tapas and Blazul Samad Adnan forced their employees to work, even if the building had been declared unfit for use. The death toll rises to 323. 15 people found alive, but hundreds are still missing. At least 10 thousand workers take to the streets demanding greater safety measures. On Twitter pope Francis makes a plea for the victims.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Police have arrested the owners of two textile factories housed in Rana Plaza, the eight-storey building that collapsed in Savar, on the extreme outskirts of Dhaka (Bangladesh) on 24 April. Mahbubur Rahman Tapas and Blazul Adnan Samad, owners of the firms New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style, surrendered to the police this morning. They are accused of having blackmailed and forced their employees to go to work, although the building was declared unsafe and unfit for use. Meanwhile, this morning pope Francis tweeted a plea for Bangladesh: "Join me in praying for the victims of Dhaka, Bangladesh, that God will grant comfort and strenght to their families."

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise: today, at least 323 workers are known to have died in the building collapse. This morning, rescuers pulled 15 people alive from the rubble, on the third floor of the building, in addition to well over 2 thousand wounded saved in the past three days. According to police, engaged in the search for survivors there are still hundreds of people trapped in what remains of Rana Plaza.

Since yesterday, at least 10 thousand people employed in the textile industry have been marching on the streets of Dhaka and Savar, to demand greater safety in the workplace. Those employed in these textile factories - mostly young boys and girls - work in inhumane conditions: thousands of people crammed on a single floor, for at least 12 hours a day, 40 dollars a month (about 30 EUR) , which is the average pay of an unskilled worker. "At this point - says a witness - they are treated worse than slaves."

After China, Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing in the world. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, since 2005 more than 1,000 textile workers have died in the country due to buildings that do not meet safety standard criteria. The textile industry accounts for more than 10% of the national GDP and about 80% of exports, mostly in the United States and Europe. Bangladesh has about 4,500 factories, which employ over 2 million people.



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