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Anger On Streets As Bangladesh Building Toll Passes 300

posted 30 Apr 2013, 00:59 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 30 Apr 2013, 01:00 ]

Bangladesh textile workers vent their anger as the death toll passes 300 following the collapse of a building containing factories that made low-cost garments for Western brands.

SAVAR, OUTSKIRTS OF DHAKABANGLADESH (APRIL 26, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Rescuers at the site of the collapsed factory building on the outskirts of Dhaka bored deeper into the wreckage of the building on Friday (April 26), hoping for miracle rescues which would stop the death toll rising much higher.

Crews pulled dozens of survivors from the rubble of Bangladesh's worst industrial accident, but the death toll kept rising. Army spokesman Shahinur Islam said it had reached 304.

Rescuers were still pulling people alive from the rubble - 72 people since daybreak on Friday following 41 found in the same room overnight - two days after the eight-storey building collapsed on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.

But there were fears that hundreds of people were still trapped in the wreckage of the building, which officials said had been built illegally without the correct building permits.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she had ordered the arrest of the owners of the building and of the five factories that occupied it.

Anger over the working conditions of Bangladesh's 3.6 million garment workers, the overwhelming majority of them women, has grown steadily since the disaster, with thousands taking to the streets to protest on Friday.

About 2,350 people have been rescued, at least half of them injured, from the remains of the building in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km (20 miles) from Dhaka.

An industry official has said 3,122 people, most of them female garment workers, had been in theRana Plaza building despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.

Bangladesh is the second-largest exporter of garments in the world but many factories remained closed for a second day on Friday, with garment workers protesting against poor conditions and demanding the owners of the building and the factories it housed face harsh punishment.

Wednesday's collapse was the third major industrial incident in five months in Bangladesh. In November, a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory on the outskirts of Dhaka killed 112 people.

Such incidents have raised serious questions about worker safety and low wages in Bangladeshand could taint the poor South Asian country's reputation as a producer of low-cost products and services.

North American and European chains, including British retailer Primark and Canada's Loblaw, said they were supplied by factories in the Rana Plaza building.

Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the proprietors of the five factories inside the building had ignored the association's warning not to open on Wednesday after cracks had been seen in the building the day before.