ASIA/BANGLADESH - Eight arrests for the collapse of the factory, three Christian girls missing

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - As one continues to dig under the rubble of the eight-storey building which collapsed last Wednesday on the outskirts of Dhaka, burying more than three thousand people, all workers from three textile companies, the Police have arrested eight people. Among them Bazlus Samad, owner of the company "New Wave", who ordered the workers to continue working, despite the instability of the building, and Mahmudur Rahaman Tapash, a CEO of one of the three factories that were in the building. Meanwhile, the provisional toll of the victims has risen to 340 while another 45 survivors were rescued last night. It is estimated that about 2,000 people have been saved in two days, more than half are injured, while about a thousand remain missing. According to information sent to Fides, among those missing there are also three Christian workers, young girls that were formed in a professional center run by the PIME missionaries. Christian volunteer missionaries on the premises - who are collaborating in the rescue operations - continue to look for them among the rubble and hospitals that receive the injured.
"Those who are involved, especially the owner that forced workers to work there - despite warnings, will be punished," said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The incident has generated widespread anger and demonstrations of workers who have also expressed their anger violently, clashing with the police. "The demands are legitimate safety in the workplace," explains to Fides Fr Franco Cagnasso, PIME missionary in Dhaka, "also because incidents of this kind follow one another and the problem is big and widespread."
The collapse of the building throws petrol on the fire in the situation of high political and social tension that exists in the country (see Fides 19 and 26/04/2013)). Opposition parties and Islamist parties seized the opportunity to exploit the fact, laying the responsibility on the government of the Awami League, asking for their resignation. Also because the owner of the collapsed building is a man close to the Awami League. The rising opposition to the government includes both the traditional "Bangladesh Nationalist Party" (BNP), but also a diverse array of a sort of Islamist party composed by the ancient "Jamaat-Islam" party and new formations and movements such as "Hefajat-Islam" ("Protector of Islam") and "Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat," which call for greater Islamization of the country. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/04/2013)