Vibration triggered collapse: probe

A government enquiry has found use of substandard materials during the construction and heavy machinery in the five garment factories that it housed mainly triggered the collapse of Rana Plaza.

Published : 2 May 2013, 07:04 AM
Updated : 2 May 2013, 09:04 AM

The committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs came up with its findings on Thursday.

The head of the investigation panel Main Uddin Khandaker told that apart from the heavy machinery used by garment units, the vibration of the high-capacity generators set up on the top floor of the building also contributed to the collapse.

The worst industrial accident in Bangladesh has left 436 confirmed dead.

“The vibration of the generators jerked the building. This is one of the reasons for the building collapse.”

Khandaker, an Additional Secretary, said the generators were in operation when the huge structure came crushing down suddenly in the morning of Apr 23 in Savar.

Khandaker said the generator sets used by the factories were turned on after a power cut in the building around 8:30 am and that created a huge tremor, which led to the collapse.

The death toll from the horrific building collapse reached 436 with the recovery of 18 more bodies from the ruins on Thursday as the second phase of the rescue operation continued for the third consecutive day.

The investigation panel had been asked to submit its findings within seven working days, but the timeframe is likely to be extended since the second phase of the rescue operation to remove tones of concrete rubbles from the site of the collapsed building are still going on, Khandaker said.

The five-member committee was constituted soon after the mishap with Khandaker as its Convenor.
The other members are Dhaka district’s Superintendent of Police, Director of Ashulia Industrial Police, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka district and a Deputy/Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Home.
Khandaker said that the investigation report would be submitted after competition of the rescue operation.
Saying there were ‘significant progresses’ in their investigation, Khandaker said: “We have recorded statements of the victims and others concerned. We would also talk to those who have been arrested over the deadly incident.”
Police have already arrested building owner Sohel Rana, the owners of five garment units housed at his building, his father Abdul Khalek and three engineers of Savar Municipality responsible for overseeing buildings safety in the area.
Meanwhile another probe panel, constituted by Ministry of Local Government, to investigate into the collapse submitted its report on Thursday.
The committee in its finding charged Savar Municipality of “illegally clearing” the design and layout of the ill-fated building. It said that the Municipality did not follow proper procedures to clear the construction plan.
“The Mayor of Savar Municipality and officials approved construction of seventh to tenth floor by tampering the original design,” the committee said in its report, saying such action, “tantamount to negligence of duty, inefficiency and misuse of power.”
Savar Municipality Mayor M Refatullah was put under temporary suspension on Thursday for dereliction of duty.
The collapse has created concern about building safety in Dhaka as well as in other parts of the country as cracks have been noticed in several old structures across the country.
Home ministry official Khandaker said that a special panel was formed to identify such cracks-infested buildings.
He said that the Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) received information about cracks developing in some 160 garment factories across the country.
“If cracks are found in any building in the areas under the jurisdiction of RAJUK, the inspection team of the development authority of Dhaka will visit the site, submit probe report and take measures accordingly,” he added.
For the areas outside Dhaka, a sub-committee would be formed comprising the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of the concerned district under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
In the wake of the Savar tragedy, the BGMEA has asked the authorities of all readymade garment factories to submit their structural design assessment and load management reports to it within a month so as to improve safety measures to prevent recurrence of such ‘accidents’ in future.
The apex organisation of the country’s garment industry also asked the owners of all garment units to shift generators to the ground floor.