Rescuers Still Hope For Survivors In Bangladesh Collapse

The death toll in the collapse hovers around 300, but rescue workers hope some of the hundreds more buried in the rubble can be taken out alive.

Rescue workers are still hoping to find survivors from the collapse of an eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh that has killed nearly 300 people are left hundreds missing.

Meanwhile, angry relatives of the missing have clashed with police, blaming authorities for the catastrophe at Rana Plaza in Savar, an industrial suburb of the capital, Dhaka.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is overseeing rescue operations, told The Associated Press that the death toll at the building that collapsed on Wednesday had reached 290, and that 2,200 people have been rescued. The AP says the garment manufacturers' group said the factories in the building employed 3,122 workers, but it was not clear how many were inside it when it collapsed Wednesday in Savar, a suburb of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.

Speaking to NPR, Anbarasan Ethirajan, a Bangladesh-based reporter for the BBC, says rescues have been using "cranes, diggers and even bare hands."

The factory complex, which reportedly supplies major retailers in the United States and Europe, showed signs that something was wrong the day before the structure suddenly crashed to the ground. Ethirajan says workers had reported cracks in the walls and floor.

Survivors and officials told Ethirajan that when the owner of the building was informed, "he said 'no need to worry about the safety' [that] they can go back to work on the next day."

One of the garment workers who survived the collapse told Ethirajan that they were told on Tuesday "if they didn't go back to work, they might lose their wages."

But employees at a bank on the first floor did not report for work on Wednesday because they feared for their safety, he said.

Thousands of workers from the hundreds of garment factories across the Savar industrial zone and other nearby industrial areas are protesting and a few rioting over to protest the collapse and poor safety standards, according to the AP.

Garment makers in the building include at least two that claim to supply Western retail outlets.

The AP reports:

"Britain's Primark acknowledged it was using a factory in Rana Plaza, but many other retailers distanced themselves from the disaster, saying they were not involved with the factories at the time of the collapse or had not recently ordered garments from them. Wal-Mart said none of its clothing had been authorized to be made in the facility, but it is investigating whether there was any unauthorized production."

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