Lost and found

I have never seen dead bodies piled up by the side of the road before. Bodies, like rice dropped from a bag. Mothers looking for their daughters, adamant that they must be there, even two weeks after the collapse. More than 1,135 souls. Missing. I also returned for weeks, not completely sure why. I hadn’t known anyone there, nor was I an activist for garment factory worker’s rights. But I had to be there. Almost half as many had died from the Rana Plaza collapse, as those did in the World Trade Center. The footprint of the building was no larger than a basketball court. The Twin Towers covered 16 acres. I wandered around the wreckage and came across human hair, purses, under garments, an odd tea pot, gloves manufactured for export, broken machines and damaged manikins.

I started collecting them.

A sense of responsibility stirred within me. I cannot fully explain it. It was later described to me as trauma. The found objects piled up in my room, bringing with them the smell of rotten flesh, the smell of rana plaza. Many of them had blood of the victims. They stayed with me for about six months; I slept in the same room with them. After two weeks of searching, the government had put up an eight feet high fence around the perimeter, hiding the site from family members desperately in search of their loved ones. All that remained of the site was a shallow pit, partially covered in pre-monsoon waters. About six months after the collapse, I started photographing the objects I had collected. I did not want to see pictures of the destruction and death any more, but I never wanted to forget. I felt disgusted when others complimented me for my photographs of the destruction.

I had long hair that I had planned on growing even longer. But a sadness overtook me and I soon parted with my locks. There was a smell all over my hair, an imaginary smell of dead flesh. I kept my cut hair too, along with the hair I had found at the site.
7AtishSaha

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A damaged mannequin, found amidst Rana Plaza’s rubble. A teapot, found among the Rana Plaza debris 03 Several locks of a female garment worker’s hair A garment worker’s handbag, found in the Rana Plaza rubble A synthetic top, manufactured in one of the garment factories in Rana Plaza A broken hanger from one of the garment factories in Rana Plaza. A mannequin’s arm A skein of red thread A bra, found in the Rana Plaza rubble 11 A zipper with reddish dirt found in the debris at Rana Plaza

Rana Plaza Garments building collapse: An act of God ?

  A view of Rana plaza after the operation is complete. Down in the hole that used to be Rana Plaza, the crushed remains of half a dozen cars were still waiting for removal.
A view of Rana plaza after the operation is complete. Down in the hole that used to be Rana Plaza, the crushed remains of half a dozen cars were still waiting for removal.
Rescuers are pulling a garment worker from rubble of Rana Plaza.
Rescuers are pulling a garment worker from rubble of Rana Plaza.
A garment worker was rescued from rubble of collapsed Rana Plaza
A garment worker was rescued from rubble of collapsed Rana Plaza
A man walked out of rubble all by himself after being trapped there for eight hours. Lack of oxygen and daylight while he was under the collapsed building left his face with marks from his mask and he is breathing fast.
A man walked out of rubble all by himself after being trapped there for eight hours. Lack of oxygen and daylight while he was under the collapsed building left his face with marks from his mask and he is breathing fast.
Rescuers check if a severely injured worker is still alive or not
Rescuers check if a severely injured worker is still alive or not
A garment worker, just rescued from the rubble of Rana Plaza, waits for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
A garment worker, just rescued from the rubble of Rana Plaza, waits for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
 Firefighters wait in their camp for equipment to start their operation on the day of Rana Plaza collapse
Firefighters wait in their camp for equipment to start their operation on the day of Rana Plaza collapse
Rana Plaza sight on the second day after the collapse.
Rana Plaza sight on the second day after the collapse.
After waiting for certain hours to be rescued, in the noon of 24 April seventeen years old Rowshan Ara finally comes out of the rubble of Rana Plaza all by herself. With two silent eyes, she continues searching for her husband who is yet to be rescued from the rubble.
After waiting for certain hours to be rescued, in the noon of 24 April seventeen years old Rowshan Ara finally comes out of the rubble of Rana Plaza all by herself. With two silent eyes, she continues searching for her husband who is yet to be rescued from the rubble.
A rescue dog searches for survivors inside of rubble of Rana Plaza.
A rescue dog searches for survivors inside of rubble of Rana Plaza.
A Father holds a photo of his son, who is missing in Rana Plaza collapse. The photo is covered in polyether to protect it from the rain.
A Father holds a photo of his son, who is missing in Rana Plaza collapse. The photo is covered in polyether to protect it from the rain.
One of the Rana Plaza survivors in Enam Medical College at Savar for treatment
One of the Rana Plaza survivors in Enam Medical College at Savar for treatment
One of the many untrained rescuers who volunteered to help searching for survivors rests on clothes used to cover dead bodies.
One of the many untrained rescuers who volunteered to help searching for survivors rests on clothes used to cover dead bodies.
Reflection of the sky in the damaged building next to where Rana Plaza stood
Reflection of the sky in the damaged building next to where Rana Plaza stood
 A young garment worker stands on top of the collapsed building after being rescued unharmed.
A young garment worker stands on top of the collapsed building after being rescued unharmed.
A toy lies inside of a residential building that got damaged when Rana Plaza collapsed.
A toy lies inside of a residential building that got damaged when Rana Plaza collapsed.
The rescued man is given oxygen on the site after he got rescued from the rubble
The rescued man is given oxygen on the site after he got rescued from the rubble
Men carry a dead body, recovered from Rana Plaza.
Men carry a dead body, recovered from Rana Plaza.
When the devastating fire broke out at the first floor of Rana Plaza, rescuers were trying to 'unglue' Shahina, a garment worker, who was pinned in the debris for five long days. The fire was reportedly started by sparks from cutters being used to remove wreckage. Four fire fighters have been taken to hospital. A firefighter tries to put out the fire.
When the devastating fire broke out at the first floor of Rana Plaza, rescuers were trying to ‘unglue’ Shahina, a garment worker, who was pinned in the debris for five long days. The fire was reportedly started by sparks from cutters being used to remove wreckage. Four fire fighters have been taken to hospital. A firefighter tries to put out the fire.
Rescuers are praying their daily prayer in the rubble of Rana Plaza
Rescuers are praying their daily prayer in the rubble of Rana Plaza
Recovered dead bodies covered with white sheet of garment workers are kept in Adhar Chandra High school in Savar waiting recognition by the families.
Recovered dead bodies covered with white sheet of garment workers are kept in Adhar Chandra High school in Savar waiting recognition by the families.
Deformed bodies of garments workers are kept Adhar Chandra High School. Relatives are looking for their dear ones using cellphone light
Deformed bodies of garments workers are kept Adhar Chandra High School. Relatives are looking for their dear ones using cellphone light
A body of a garments worker kept in a Van waiting for her relatives
A body of a garments worker kept in a Van waiting for her relatives
Just rescued garments worker is lying senseless on the stretcher
Just rescued garments worker is lying senseless on the stretcher
 A woman cries as she waits for her daughter’s body at the playground of Adharchandra High School in Savar
A woman cries as she waits for her daughter’s body at the playground of Adharchandra High School in Savar
Coffin of a dead garment worker in the field of Adhar Chandra high school awaits burial.
Coffin of a dead garment worker in the field of Adhar Chandra high school awaits burial.
A woman fainted at the cemetery after seeing the grave of her daughter for the first time after her death in Tazreen Factory, five months before Rana Plaza collapse. There are freshly dug graves for Rana Plana victims just across the graveyard.
A woman fainted at the cemetery after seeing the grave of her daughter for the first time after her death in Tazreen Factory, five months before Rana Plaza collapse. There are freshly dug graves for Rana Plana victims just across the graveyard.
Unidentified bodies are carried out of a government van to be buried shortly in Jurayn Graveyard. The charity organization, Anjuman-e-Mafidul Islam, so far buried 64 unidentified bodies at the Jurain graveyard in capital after completing their DNA profiling
Unidentified bodies are carried out of a government van to be buried shortly in Jurayn Graveyard. The charity organization, Anjuman-e-Mafidul Islam, so far buried 64 unidentified bodies at the Jurain graveyard in capital after completing their DNA profiling
Unidentified bodies are buried in graves marked only with numbers.
Unidentified bodies are buried in graves marked only with numbers.
 Rainwater reflects rescuers on the site of collapsed Rana Plaza
Rainwater reflects rescuers on the site of collapsed Rana Plaza

Rana Plaza: A killing incident.

‘It was an act of God’
BGMEA boss says about Rana Plaza Collapse.

Monowar Hossain, 22 years old, died in hospital on August 8, 2013 it was the day before Eid-ul-Fitr. Hossain, a garment factory worker, was the 1133rd person to die of eight storied Garments building Rana Plaza collapse on April 24,2013. Three hundred people are still missing. Another 2,420 have been rescued alive; many of them now live with permanent disabilities such as amputated limbs.

More than 1,133 Bangladeshi garment workers died here in April, almost half as many as died in the World Trade Center. The footprint of the building was not much larger than a basketball court. The site of the Twin Towers covered 16 acres. All that remained of Rana Plaza now was this shallow pit, a few inches deep in muddy water from the pre-monsoon rains, ringed by mountains of rubble and twisted rebar and damp piles of half-sewn clothing and bolts of brightly colored cloth.

Ordinary Bangladeshis volunteered at the disaster site. A lack of efficient machine compelled them to dig through rubble with bare hands to find humans living and dead, and to improvise amputations of trapped workers with machetes. Some rescuers were injured and hospitalized. Many are still suffering mental trauma.

According to witnesses, the factory building had a big crack in it already on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Several workers feared building collapse and refused to continue working. Management told workers that if they did not come to work on Wednesday, April 24, they would be denied their wages from the entire month. A worker at this factory earns about 14 to 17 cents per hour, a malnutrition wage despite a 70 to 80-hour work week.

An architect has confirmed that the building was designed in 2004 as a shopping mall and not an industrial facility. Engineer Abdur Razzak Khan inspected the building on Tuesday, April 23, and appeared on television news stating he already told the owner that the building should be evacuated. Khan was later arrested.

The factories manufactured apparel for the Benetton Group, Joe Fresh, The Children’s Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn. Walmart claims that they had no authorized production in the building, but one of the factories in the building, Ether Tex, listed Walmart as a customer.

This occurred after a similar incident in November 2012 where 112 workers died in a fire at another garment factory in Bangladesh. Tazreen Fashion factory employed 1,630 workers who produced T-shirts, polo shirts and jackets for various companies, including the US Marines, C&A, Walmart and Li & Fung.

About 40 other similar work-related accidents have been reported between the Tazreen fire (November 2012) and Rana Plaza collapse (April 2013).

Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry supplies retailers worldwide and accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s exports. The collapse raised strong doubts about retailers’ claims that they could ensure worker safety through self-regulation.

Bangladesh is popular as a source of clothing largely because of its cheap labor. Worker protests forced the government to raise the minimum wage for garment workers to $70/month in September 2013, a sharp increase over the $38/month minimum in effect at the time of the Rana Plaza collapse. (According to the World Bank, the per-capita income in Bangladesh was $64/month in 2011.)

“This is not an accident. This is a killing incident.”
Bangladeshi government minister Hasanul Huq Inu.