Primark says it will pay compensation to Bangladeshi victims

Rescue officials offer scant hope on finding further survivors as death toll reaches 385


Clothing chain Primark said it will pay an unspecified amount of compensation to the victims of the Bangladesh building collapse who worked for its supplier New Wave and urged other retailers to "come forward" and offer help.

Compensation will include long-term aid for children who have lost parents, financial aid for the injured and payments to parents of the deceased, the London-based company said today in a statement.

Primark said its supplier shared the building with other retailers and that the retailer is "fully aware of our responsibility."

The collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24th killed at least 385 people in the nation's biggest industrial disaster.

Primark last week confirmed a supplier, Simple Approach, had contracted New Wave, which was on the second floor of the building on the day of the disaster, and said it was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the incident.

"We shall be reviewing our commitments constantly to ensure that they meet the needs of the victims as the tragedy continues to unfold," the retailer said in today's e-mailed statement. It has joined with a non-governmental organization to provide emergency food aid to families, it added.

Primark is one of at least five retailers whose products were made in the garment factory, including Loblaw Cos.' brand Joe Fresh, UK budget retailer Matalan, plus-size womenswear seller Bonmarche and Spanish department store El Corte Ingles.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi lawyers and protesters shouted outside a court today as the owner of the factory building was led into court dressed in a helmet and bullet-proof jacket, witnesses said.

The drama came as rescue officials said they were unlikely to find more survivors in the rubble of the building that collapsed last Wednesday, burying hundreds of garment workers in the country’s worst ever industrial accident.

Heavy cranes were being used to lift huge concrete segments from the wreckage of Rana Plaza, where 385 people are now confirmed to have been killed. The building housed factories making clothes for western brands.

Eight people have been arrested - four factory bosses, two engineers and building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and his father, Abdul Khalek. Police are looking for a fifth factory boss, David Mayor, who they say is a Spanish citizen.

Mr Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front, was shown on television being brought to Dhaka in handcuffs after he was seized in the border town of Benapole by the elite Rapid Action Battalion following a four-day manhunt. He was arrested by police commandos yesterday, apparently trying to flee to India.

The court ordered that Mr Rana be held for 15 days “on remand” for interrogation. Mr Khalek, who officials said was named in documents as a legal owner of the building, was arrested in Dhaka today. Those being held face charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death.

Death penalty

Bangladesh carries out the death penalty for murder and the most serious categories of manslaughter.

Hundreds of the mostly female workers who are thought to have been inside the building when it caved in still remain unaccounted for. A fire overnight further hampered the last desperate efforts to find survivors.