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#ClothesToDieFor: BBC2 documentary explores horror of Rana Plaza collapse

The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory complex in Dhaka in April last year left more than 1000 people dead.

The horrific incident also left thousands more injured with survivors trapped for days under a mountain of rubble.

Some of those survivors recall their remarkable stories of survival and the conditions they endured prior to the incident in a hard-hitting new documentary set to air tonight on BBC2.

‘Clothes to Die For’ features survivors reliving the moments before the collapse of the eight-story factory complex and the desperate efforts by hundreds of local people who risked their own lives to dig out people trapped inside.

The factory had housed several garment-manufacturing factories supplying a number of international retailers including well-known British outlets such as Primark, MATALAN and ASDA.

The owners of the building had repeatedly ignored safety concerns, including warnings of cracks appearing in the building’s supporting walls just a day before what became the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Among those featured in the documentary is Rojina Begum, one of the workers who had voiced concerns about the structural integrity of the building and who was one of 2515 people injured in the collapse.

She recalls: “After I went inside I saw the rumour was true. There was a crack in the pillar and the rods had come out. There were cracks in the ceiling too. It could collapse any time. I told my sister, ‘We made a mistake coming. Let’s leave.'”
The sisters never got the chance to flee.

After the building collapsed, Rojina was trapped under the rubble, in complete darkness.

“My arm was trapped under rods, beams, machines and tables. My head hurt and I was bleeding from my ear. Many of the people around me had died. Their blood rolled down my body.”

After three days Rojina decided to make a drastic decision. Realizing that rescuers were unable to reach her position, she proceeded to amputate her trapped arm using a saw thrown down to her by a doctor.

“At first I said I can’t. I had no strength. It was the start of the third day. He said: ‘Give it a try.’ I said, ‘OK, give it to me’ and I cut it. I had only one thing on my mind, to look for my sister. That’s why I could do it.”

‘Clothes To Die For’ also charts the origins and growth of the Bangladeshi clothing industry, the world’s second biggest after China, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country’s total exports.

The $24 billion industry employs thousands of people at a staggering 5000 factories around the country but has been beset by safety concerns and the routine exploitation of workers who are paid on average, just $1.50 a day.

The building’s owner Sohel Rana is facing charges along with a number of others, including his parents and the local mayor who is accused of colluding with the Rana’s to add additional floors to the building without permission.

‘Clothes to Die For’ airs tonight 9.00 pm on BBC 2.



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