Emotional protest in Bangladesh two months after disaster

Updated 24 June 2013

Emotional protest in Bangladesh two months after disaster

DHAKA: Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers and survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse staged an emotional protest yesterday, on the two-month anniversary of the country’s worst industrial disaster.
Relatives called on the government to account for those still missing and other workers demanded proper payment and compensation at the site of the disaster outside the capital Dhaka, where the building collapsed on April 24, killing 1,129 people.
Many of the relatives burst into tears as they told of their attempts to find their loved ones, while others called for the death penalty for the owner of the building, which housed factories making clothes for Western retailers.
“I’ve not found my elder sister Laboni Begum’s body,” said Shimu Akter, 18, a garment worker who was rescued from the rubble two hours after the building caved in. “We have seen everybody the authorities recovered. But she was not among them.”
A local government official said 316 workers were still missing, but the authorities said they could be among hundreds who were buried in a state graveyard after their bodies could not be identified.
The government has collected DNA samples of those buried who were not identified at the time, and said they would match those samples with relatives to ensure they were compensated.
But some family members said they wanted their loved ones’ bodies, not the money, so they could be buried properly.
“I want my brother’s body. We want to take him to our village and bury him at our family graveyard,” said Sujan, who uses just one name.
The collapse of the nine-story complex focused global attention on appalling safety standards at plants in Bangladesh, the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China.
Twelve people have so far been arrested over the disaster, including the building owner, his father, and four factory owners.
Many survivors joined the protest, demanding unpaid salaries and severance benefits. Thousands of workers were laid off after the five garment factories operating in the complex were shut down following the collapse.
“The authorities gave me only 8,500 taka ($ 110) as compensation and nothing,” said Maleka Begum, who left the building only moments before the collapse to buy medicine.
“I want all my severance benefits and my unpaid overtime,” she said, joining scores of others at the protest.
Authorities say at least 2,438 people — mostly female garment workers — were rescued from the site, including 968 people who were seriously injured.
After the disaster, the government launched inspections of all garment factories to try to reassure Western retailers including Walmart, H&M, Tesco and Inditex of improved safety conditions.
But unions and experts said hundreds of factories were still operating in shoddy buildings, raising fears that another tragedy could occur at any time.


Russia deploys S-400 missile defense systems in Arctic

Updated 4 min 44 sec ago

Russia deploys S-400 missile defense systems in Arctic

  • The S-400 is one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world and can hit enemy targets at up to 400 kilometers
  • Over the past few years Russia has significantly upgraded its military infrastructure in the Arctic

MOSCOW: Russia has placed S-400 missile defense systems at the Novaya Zemlya archipelago as Moscow seeks to increase its military presence in the Arctic, the defense ministry said on Monday.
The surface to air-missile regiment of the Northern Fleet’s air defense forces based on the archipelago’s southern Yuzhny Island has been fully equipped with new S-400 systems, the fleet said.
The regiment was earlier equipped with S-300 systems, a previous version of the missile.
The S-400 is one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world and can hit enemy targets at up to 400 kilometers.
Over the past few years Russia has significantly upgraded its military infrastructure in the Arctic.
In addition to the Novaya Zemlya forces, the country has stationed troops in the Franz Josef Land, the New Siberian Islands and several other places.
Russia has increasingly asserted itself as an Arctic nation, proclaiming the region as a top priority due to its mineral riches and strategic importance.