Bangladesh workers rally to demand safer working conditions and death penalty for owner of collapsed factory as death toll passes 400

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Thousands march in May Day protests in Dhaka over lax safety regulations

Asia Correspondent

The death toll from the Bangladesh building collapse has now passed 400 with at least 149 other people officially listed as unaccounted for. Many hundreds more may yet be missing beneath the rubble.

As thousands of workers marched through Dhaka to demand better and safer working conditions and the death penalty for the owner of the building that collapsed, officials said 402 people were now known to have lost their lives - 399 at the site and a further three in hospital.

According to the Associated Press, Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, a Dhaka district administrator, said so far 149 people have been listed missing. But a police official, Aminur Rahman, said police have recorded up to 1,300 names as missing. He said some of those may be duplicates.

"We will now have to screen the names by computer to find the actual number," he said.

Last week's collapse of an eight-storey building containing garment factories producing clothes for Western brands, has drawn fresh attention to the perilous and largely unregulated nature of the industry. The £14bn garment trade brings vital foreign currency to the developing nation and officials have previously been loathe to take steps that might persuade Western companies to look elsewhere.

But last week's incident - the latest in a series of deadly disasters - has created unprecedented anger inside Bangladesh. Many believed the politcally-connected owner of the factory would escape justice, but at the weekend Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested by commandoes as he tried to enter India.

Mr Rana, who has links with both the ruling party and the main opposition, is being questioned by police while under arrest. He is expected to be charged with negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work, which is punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail. The authorities have not said if more serious crimes will be added at a later date.

Mr Rana was yesterday the focus of much anger and anguish among the thousands of marchers who stepped through Dhaka as part of a May Day parade. The often noisy procession of workers wound its way in cars, trucks and on motor-bikes. Many waved flags and beat drums as they chanted "death penalty".

The AP said that from a loudspeaker attached to the back of one truck, a participant spoke for the group: "My brother has died. My sister has died. Their blood will not be valueless."

May Day protests, customarily an opportunity for workers in a still largely impoverished nation to vent their grievances, have taken on a new significance this year following last week's disaster.

On Wednesday, the authorities also buried the bodies of 18 workers whose remains were found in the rubble but whom remain unidentified.

EU officials have said they are considering action including changes to Bangladesh's duty-free and quota-free access to the giant EU market to persuade officials to adopt a more responsible management of the nation's garment industry.

In a statement, Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign affairs chief, and its trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, called for the Bangladesh authorities to act immediately to ensure factories comply with international labour standards.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas