Bangladesh building collapse death toll tops 1 000

2013-05-10 09:17

Dhaka – The death toll from the catastrophic collapse of a Bangladesh factory building, the world’s worst industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, climbed above 1 000 and more bodies might still be trapped inside as rescuers struggle to end the salvage operation.

More that two weeks after the accident, bodies were still being pulled from the rubble of the Rana Plaza complex, and today a spokesman at the army control room coordinating the operation said the number of people confirmed to have been killed had reached 1 038.

Roughly 2 500 people were rescued from the building, in the industrial suburb of Savar, around 30km northwest of Dhaka, including many injured, but there is no official estimate of the numbers still missing.

The disaster, believed to have been triggered when generators were started up during a blackout, has put the spotlight on Western retailers who use the impoverished South Asian nation as a source of cheap goods.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the disaster, including the building’s owner and bosses of the factories it housed.

Hundreds of relatives were still gathered at the site, some holding up photographs of family members. Rescue workers have found it increasingly difficult to identify decomposing bodies and are using ID cards found on them or even their mobile phones to do so.

“A total of 156 unidentified victims have been buried,” said Dhaka District Administrator Mohammad Yousuf Harun, adding that DNA samples taken from the bodies had been preserved so tests could be done if relatives come forward later.

The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy construction materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the poor South Asian country’s exports, has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.

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