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Bangladesh toll rises as dozens more rescued

© AFP

Video by Julia SIEGER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-26

The death toll from a building collapse in Bangladesh rose to 273 on Friday, after a fresh wave of survivors was pulled from the rubble late Thursday. As many as 1,000 people remain unaccounted for as the search enters its third day.

The search for survivors from Bangladesh's worst industrial accident stretched into a third day on Friday, with the death toll rising to 273 after the collapse of a building housing factories that made low-cost garments for Western brands.

Almost miraculously, 41 people trapped inside the rubble of the eight-storey building were rescued alive late on Thursday, government minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak said, about 40 hours after the disaster on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Nanak said they had been working on the fourth floor of the Rana Plaza building and had all been found trapped in one room. Few other details were available.

Around 2,000 people have been rescued over the past two days, at least half of them injured, but as many as 1,000 people remain unaccounted for.

An industry official has said 3,122 people, mainly female garment workers, were inside the building despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.

Rescuers from Bangladesh's army, navy and air force, as well as police and fire services, pored over huge piles of rubble and twisted metal in the search for survivors, using their bare hands as well as mechanical equipment.

"We are not sure how many people are still trapped under the rubble," said Dhaka District police chief Habibur Rahman, who updated the death toll early on Friday to 273. "Priority has been given to save people who are still alive," he said.

"The odour is so foul, sometimes you feel like vomiting. It's difficult to work here 20 minutes at a stretch," said Mohammad Tareq, a garment worker himself who is one of hundreds of volunteers to have joined the rescue effort.

Wednesday's disaster refocused attention on Western high-street brands that use Bangladesh as a source of low-cost goods and is the latest in a spate of tragedies in the "Made in Bangladesh" clothing sector.

It prompted new criticism of Western brands who were accused by activists of placing profit before safety by sourcing their products from the country despite its shocking track record of deadly disasters.

Only British low-cost fashion line Primark and Spanish giant Mango have acknowledged having their products made in the collapsed bloc, while a host of brands including Wal-Mart and France's Carrefour are investigating.

Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi workers walked out of their factories in solidarity with their dead colleagues on Thursday as flags flew at half mast and a national day of mourning was held.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-26

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