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Bangladesh building collapse death toll rises to 435 as search continues


16:32, May 02, 2013

DHAKA, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the last week's building collapse in Savar on the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka climbed to 435 with recovery of about a dozen more bodies Thursday as rescuers continued their struggle to search for missing persons.

Nine days into the Bangladesh's worst industrial tragedy, rescuers still believed that there might have many more bodies in the wreckage of the collapsed building though they already left the hope of finding people any more alive .

"429 bodies have so far been pulled out of the collapsed building," Major General Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardi, general officer commanding of Bangladesh Army's Nine Infantry Division, told reporters Thursday morning at the disaster site.

He said they are now putting their efforts to pull out manually six more bodies which were spotted Thursday as the rescuers with cranes and other heavy equipment have been removing huge concrete slabs and chunks of debris.

"We'll never leave the accident site until recovery of the last body," said the leader of the entire rescue operations.

Of the bodies, he said 374 have so far been handed over to their relatives.

Rescuers in collaboration with thousands of volunteers and locals under the supervision of Bangladesh Army's 9th Infantry Division have been working without any break since April 24 morning when the building collapsed.

According to Chowdhury, the rescuers have pulled alive 2,437 people after eight-storey building Rana Plaza crumbled like a pack of cards on April 24 at about 8:30 a.m. local time.

Following the cracks which were detected just one day before the accident, the workers were evacuated and the garments authorities declared a leave for Tuesday.

But nobody has bothered about the cracks when officials of the factories forced the workers on the next morning to join workplaces in the building.

According to sources, almost all the death victims are workers of the five factories -- Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms -- which make clothing for many major global brands.

Even one week after the tragedy, the rescue operation leader could not tell how many workers were inside when the building collapsed.

Six floors of the building housed the five garment factories which, according to the owners' association, employed nearly 3,500 workers, mostly of them women. Furthermore, there were also a bank 's branch and hundreds of shops inside.

Workers alleged that the owners of the five factories and the building, who are now behind the bars, forced them to join their respective workplaces on Wednesday morning.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week told Parliament that she has ordered to take stern action against those responsible for all these deaths.

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