On 24 April 2013, an eight-storey building collapsed in Savar, near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, killing more than 1,100 people. Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, had originally been designed to have six storeys and intended for shops and offices only. Two further storeys had been added and the collapse was in part blamed on the weight and vibrations of the garment factories’ machinery. Rana Plaza had been briefly shut down the day before, when cracks appeared in its walls and pillars, but factory workers had been called back hours before the building fell. Rescue operations took nearly three weeks.
Workers in Rana Plaza made clothes for popular western brands. The disaster highlighted the hazardous conditions that workers face in Bangladesh’s €16bn garment industry, in which many are paid as little as €30 a month. Only a few of the brands using the factories attended a meeting of the world’s largest retailers in Geneva in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse and four made contributions to a compensation fund for victims and their families.