At least 87 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a seven-storey building, housing a garment factory that supplies Primark and Penneys, collapsed in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
Survivors said thousands of workers and residents were inside the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed. Only 600 had been rescued by the afternoon.
Retail giant Penneys has confirmed that one of the factories in the building that collapsed supplied clothing to its stores in Ireland.
Primark – which trades as Penneys in Ireland – said the supplier occupied the second floor of the eight storey building.
New Wave Style, a garment factory that occupied three floors of the building, said at least half the casualties were women. Many children were also victims, as the company provided creche facilities.
As early as Tuesday, cracks were noticed in the structure of the building. Bangladesh's industrial police confirmed that they had ordered the evacuation of Rana Plaza, but thousands of people still reported for work yesterday. Some said they had returned on pain of dismissal after engineers working for the building's owner inspected the structure and pronounced it safe. Yesterday, all the upper floors of Rana Plaza collapsed, leaving only the ground floor intact. People joined soldiers in digging for survivors, some using their bare hands. Witnesses said they could hear those trapped inside reciting prayers and crying out for water. Four garment factories occupied six of the eight floors. New Wave Style, the largest of the factories, lists international retailers such as Benetton and Monsoon along with British high street names such as Primark, Matalan and Bonmarche among its main buyers.
Primark said its "ethical trade team" was "working to collect information, assess which communities the workers come from, and to provide support where possible". The incident raises further questions over safety and working conditions in Bangladesh's £13bn (€15.2bn) garment industry, which supplies many high street brands. (© Daily Telegraph, London)