Tuesday 21 October 2014

40 survivors found in Dhaka rubble

Published 25/04/2013 | 02:31

People and rescuers gather after an eight-storey building housing several garment factories collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP Photo)
Relatives mourn a victim at the site where an eight-storey building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP)
Relatives mourn a victim at the site after an eight-storey building housing several garment factories collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP)

Rescuers have found 40 survivors in the debris of a collapsed building in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and 12 of them have been rescued so far.

Brigadier General Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is overseeing rescue operations, says all 40 were found trapped in one room on the fourth floor of the building, which housed several garment factories. He said rescue teams are working to free the remaining people.

At least 238 people have died in the worst disaster for Bangladesh's booming and powerful garment industry.

Officials said police ordered the building, which had deep cracks visible in the walls, evacuated the day before its deadly collapse, but the factories flouted the order.

More than 2,000 people carried on working and scores died when a huge section of the eight-storey building splintered into a pile of concrete. The disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar came less than five months after a blaze killed 112 people in a garment factory and underscored the unsafe conditions faced by Bangladesh's garment workers, who produce clothes for brands worn around the world.

Some of the companies in the building that fell say their customers include retail giants such as Wal-Mart. Primark was using a factory there.

Hundreds of rescuers, some crawling through the maze of rubble in search of survivors and corpses, worked through the night amid the cries of the trapped and the wails of workers' relatives gathered outside. The building, called Rana Plaza, housed numerous garment factories and a handful of other companies.

"Save us brother. I beg you brother. I want to live," moaned Mohammad Altab, a garment worker pinned tightly between two concrete slabs and next to two corpses. "It's so painful here ... I have two little children," Altab said, his voice weak from exhaustion.

Another survivor, whose voice could be heard from deep in the rubble, wept as he called for help. "We want to live brother, it hard to remain alive here. It would have been better to die than enduring such pain to live on. We want to live, please save us," the man cried.

After the cracks were reported on Tuesday, managers of a local bank that also had an office in the building evacuated their workers. The garment factories, though, kept working, ignoring the instructions of the local industrial police, said Mostafizur Rahman, a director of that paramilitary police force. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association had also asked the factories to suspend work starting on Wednesday morning, hours before the collapse. "After we got the crack reports, we asked them to suspend work until further examination, but they did not pay heed," said Atiqul Islam, the group's president.

Press Association

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