Bangladesh garment factories suffer cracks after Nepal quake
Three Bangladesh garment factories that suffered cracks during Nepal’s big April 25 earthquake that shook the region have been ordered to shut down, a safety inspector said Tuesday.
Scores of factories were inspected following the 7.8-magnitude quake that devastated Nepal and was felt in Bangladesh, where two people were killed and panicked residents and office workers poured into the streets.
A group of European retailers ordered the checks amid heightened concern about the structural safety of factories following the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 that left more than 1,100 people dead.
“We have inspected 61 garment factories after the Nepal earthquake and found cracks of concern in at least three of them,” said Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector of the group of 200 retailers formed after the 2013 tragedy.
“We’ve asked the factories to halt work so that structural engineers can have a look,” he said, adding his group — the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety — planned to carry out more such inspections.
Reports of cracks at the time of the quake prompted several factories to be evacuated, while some workers protested against returning to their machines until the buildings were declared safe.
The nine-storey Rana Plaza complex collapsed one day after cracks were seen appearing in the structure on the outskirts of Dhaka, in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
The tragedy highlighted appalling safety and other conditions for thousands of workers making clothes for Western retailers, and piled pressure on top brands to clean up Bangladesh’s textile industry, the world’s second largest after China.
Dozens of factories shut down or were ordered to shift to more stable buildings after the disaster, while almost all factories were found to have fire and other safety faults.