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Violent clashes erupt over Bangladesh building collapse

©

Video by Karen Creed

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-26

Police in Bangladesh fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters during a mass rally by garment workers outside of the capital Dhaka on Friday, two days after a building collapse killed more than 300 people and left scores more unaccounted for.

Bangladeshi police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators on Friday as they attacked factories and smashed vehicles near the capital Dhaka, two days after a building collapse killed more than 300 of their colleagues.

Police opened fire with rubber bullets after protesters, some of whom were armed with bamboo sticks, blockaded roads and forced factories at Gazipur, just outside Dhaka, to close for the day.

"The situation is very volatile. Hundreds of thousands of workers have joined the protests. We fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them," M. Asaduzzaman, an officer in the police control room, told the AFP news agency.

FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Bangladesh, David Bergman, said attempts to reach the scene of the disaster were blocked by “protestors concerned about the collapse of the building and the decisions by the manager and the owner of the building to allow the workers in.”

“Clearly there’s an enormous amount of anger among the garment workers,” Bergman said.

'An enormous amount of anger'

Mustafizur Rahman, the deputy police chief of Gazipur, said workers had attacked factories, smashed vehicles, burnt tyres on the roads and tried to torch roadside shops on the sidelines of the rally.

"They are demanding the arrest and execution of the owners of the factories and the collapsed building at Savar," he told AFP.

Meanwhile, the search for survivors from Bangladesh's worst-ever industrial accident stretched into its third day, with the death toll passing 300 after an eight-storey building housing five factories collapsed on Wednesday morning in Savar, a town near Dhaka. Rescuers expect that the number of those killed will continue to rise.

Almost miraculously, 113 people have been rescued alive since late Thursday, all of whom were found in the same room of the collapsed Rana Plaza building. But there are fears that hundreds more may still be trapped under the rubble, with scores still unaccounted for.

It is the latest disaster to befall the garment industry in Bangladesh after a fire at a factory making clothing for Walmart and other Western labels in November.

Survivors have said the building developed cracks on Tuesday evening, triggering an evacuation of the roughly 3,000 garment workers employed there, but that they had been ordered back to production lines.

Local television channel Somoy said the protests by workers also spread to several districts in the capital including at Mirpur, home to dozens of garment factories.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-26

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