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AP Photo/Shaikh Mohir Uddin
One of the workers injured in the factory collapse is cared for at the Khulna Medical Hospital.

A Chinese state-owned company is linked to Bangladesh’s latest factory collapse

By Heather Timmons

The roof of the Mongla Cement Factory in southern Bangladesh collapsed yesterday, killing at least 8 workers, injuring 50, and trapping dozens more who are feared dead. Workers had just started to build a four-story high roof on the structure that morning, and it caved in hours later, local news reports said.

About 40 people were rescued from the factory after it collapsed, but 70 more remained inside as night fell, a Bangladesh official told The New York Times. Photographs from the scene showed a massive, multi-story pile of twisted metal bars, surrounded by scaffolding.

Bangladesh authorities said that China’s CNBM International Engineering, part of state-owned conglomerate CNBM Group, China’s largest cement-maker, was responsible for the construction at the factory.

“CNBM International Engineering Limited was directly supervising the work to extend the cement factory,” BDNews24 reported, citing the Bangladesh military press office. It was reportedly scheduled to hand over the project to a division of the Bangladeshi army later this year.

No one answered the phone at CNBM Engineering’s Beijing headquarters late Friday morning, and Quartz’s emails to the company and its parent were not answered.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has pegged Bangladesh as one of the key waypoints on his “Maritime Silk Road,” an economic corridor that China is forging across Asia. In November, Bangladesh president Abdul Hamid visited China, where Chinese officials stressed the need for the two countries to work together on infrastructure development as Hamid stumped for more investment.

China-Bangladesh trade reached $10 billion in 2013 as China invested more than $1.4 billion in Bangladesh.