The cracks that suddenly appeared on Tuesday afternoon in the Rana Plaza building were large enough to send workers fleeing into the street.
They made the television news that night, but the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, told reporters the sudden appearance of cracks was “nothing serious”.
He did not say that police had ordered him to shut the factory. Nor did he mention that the top four floors of the building, in Savar, north of Dhaka, were constructed illegally without permits.
So on Wednesday morning, as workers gathered outside, unsure whether they could go in, factory officials appeared carrying megaphones, telling them the factory was open, and that their pay would be docked if they did not return to work.
Mr Rana was there again too. He reportedly told his workers of his factory: “It will stand for another 100 years”.
They went inside and began work, sitting at rows of sewing machines making jeans and shirts and jackets for the US and Europe.
Just after 9am, the eight-storey building collapsed without warning, all of it, save for the first floor, crashing in on itself.