Life in jail urged for owners of collapsed Bangladesh building

The defects and errors that led to the world’s deadliest garment-industry accident extend from the swampy ground the doomed Rana Plaza was built on, to “extremely poor quality” construction materials, a committee appointed by Bangladesh’s government concluded.

The massive, vibrating equipment operating when the eight-story building collapsed was also noted as a factor.

The committee urged life prison terms for the owners of the building and the five garment factories that operated there, though the charges they currently face carry a maximum of seven years.

The report says nothing about the role that an inadequate regulatory system played in the Apr 24 collapse, which left more than 1,100 people dead.

The disaster highlighted the hazardous working conditions in Bangladesh’s $20bn (€15.4bn) garment industry and the lack of safety for millions of workers who are paid as little as $38 a month.

The 1,127 killed at Rana Plaza in the Dhaka suburb of Savar are among at least 1,800 Bangladesh garment-industry workers killed in fires or building collapses since 2005.

The investigating committee, appointed by the interior ministry, found the ground Rana Plaza was built on was unfit for a multi-story building.

“A portion of the building was constructed on land which had been a body of water before and was filled with rubbish,” committee head Khandker Mainuddin Ahmed said.

He said the land had been swampy with shallow water.

Building owner Sohel Rana also “used extremely poor quality iron rods and cement,” Ahmed told The Associated Press yesterday. “There were a series of irregularities.”

The report found Rana had permission to build a six-story structure and added two floors illegally so he could rent them out.

Past statements from authorities said the owner had permission for a five- story structure and added three floors illegally.

The report said the building was not built for industrial use, and that the weight of machinery and their vibrations contributed to the collapse.

The committee urged the government to ensure that all those injured receive free medical care.

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