Death toll in Bangladesh rises after building collapse



Bangladeshi Army personnel and civilian volunteers work on the scene at a building collapse in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, April 24, 2013. An eight-story building containing several garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 100 people and highlighting safety problems in the clothing industry. Armed with concrete cutters and cranes, hundreds of fire service and army rescue workers struggled to find survivors in the mountain of concrete and mangled steel, which resembled the aftermath of an earthquake.


Munir uz Zaman

Rescuers continued to search through the rubble of an eight-story building Wednesday night after it collapsed near Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, killing up to 194 people at last count and trapping hundreds.

Authorities estimated about 2,000 people were inside the building, which housed several garment factories and a shopping center, when the devastation occurred at about 9 a.m., Reuters reported.

The Associated Press reported 3,122 garment workers were employed to work in the building, though it's not clear how many of them were at work at the moment of the collapse.

The AP cited the death toll as 194 late Wednesday, while Reuters' latest count of the dead stood at 187.

According to Reuters, more than 1,000 people were injured.

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As fire fighters and army personnel worked frantically Wednesday to find survivors, reports said tens of thousands of onlookers gathered at the Rana Plaza building in Savar, 19 miles outside Dhaka.

One survivor described how the building collapse came without warning, the Associated Press reported.

"It collapsed all of a sudden," a 25-year-old worker named Sumi told the AP. She said she had been sewing jeans on the fifth floor with at least 400 others when the building crumbled.

"No shaking, no indication. It just collapsed on us," she said to the AP.

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One of the companies operating in the building was the New Wave Button factory, the Wall Street Journal said. The AP reported that New Wave Style Ltd. and New Wave Brothers Ltd. garment factories were housed in the building, as well as Phantom Apparels Ltd.

Phantom Apparels' website, whose metadata indicates that the company is a joint Spanish-Bangladeshi venture, confirms the address. The 24-hour garment operation exports to Italy, Germany, Netherland, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and the US, according to Vero Style Limited, a garment manufacturer based in Bangladesh.

The tragedy follows last year's garment factory fire in Bangladesh, which killed at least 122 and led to the Bangladeshi government declaring a day of national mourning on November 27.