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The ugliness behind Savar

  • Published at 06:36 pm April 26th, 2013
The ugliness behind Savar

Despite knowing by Tuesday that Rana Plaza in Savar was unsafe, and even with cracks being visible to all that day, the owners of the building and the four garments factories housed in it defied all cautionary words to keep their businesses running the next day to a catastrophic end.

What boggles the mind is that the owners knew. They were given ample forewarning beforehand. The engineers had ordered an evacuation of the building on Tuesday when the cracks appeared, a glaring sign of the building’s imminent collapse. The building was closed down and evacuated. Workers were sent home. Brac Bank, who had a branch office there, had pulled its employees out of harm’s way. That in itself should have signaled to the building owners and to the garment factory owners that they ought to fully comply as well, and keep the building closed. Instead, all admonitions fell on deaf ears. The building was reopened the next morning, and a number of garment workers were compelled to return to work, though they were hesitant to do so.

It is bad enough that there are insufficient safety measures in place, bad enough that buildings are not built to code, and many are in danger of collapse, but the key issue in the Savar tragedy is that the owners were aware, but did nothing about it in pursuit of their own ends. This is the last level of human callousness.

One cannot ignore the numbers. Of those who have been rescued, over 800 are injured and the dead bodies of at least 92 have been recovered. That number will undoubtedly rise, as thousands are still trapped in the rubble.

To purposefully flout a warning when a loss of life can be prevented is unforgiveable. To allow such a tremendous loss of life to take place is little short of murder.