Government announces a national day of mourning as rescue workers continue search for survivors trapped under rubble.
Image Courtesy : Syed Rajowan / Focus Bangla / AFP & AP / BSS
At least 148 people have been killed and many more are feared dead after an eight-storey building collapsed in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A massive rescue mission continues as officials said on Wednesday that hundreds of people were still trapped in the rubble as fire crews say up to 2,000 people were in the building when it fell. Only the ground floor of the Rana Plaza in the Savar district, which also housed a garment factory, remained intact after the collapse at 8:30am local time on Wednesday morning, said the officials.
Doctors said that hundreds of people had received treatment for their injuries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a national day of mourning for Thursday when flags will fly half-mast in memory of the victims. “It is a scene of complete mayhem and chaos, hundreds of people are trapped under the rubble and a still being pulled out,” she said.
“The army has taken over rescuing people from the disaster. The army, police and volunteers are working collectively to pull people out of the rubble”.
Mohammad Asaduzzaman, in charge of the area’s police station, said factory owners appeared to have ignored a warning not to allow their workers into the building after a crack was detected in the block. Five garment factories – employing mostly women – were housed in the building, including Ether Tex Ltd., whose chairman said he was unaware of any warnings not to open the workshops.
“There was some crack at the second floor, but my factory was on the fifth floor,” Muhammad Anisur Rahman told e-News®. “The owner of the building told our floor manager that it is not a problem and so you can open the factory.” Abdur Rahim, who worked in a garment factory on the fifth floor, said a manager assured them there was no problem with the building.
“There were some crack at the second floor, but my factory was on the fifth floor,” he said. “The owner of the building told our floor manager that it is not a problem and so you can open the factory. “We started working. After about an hour or so the building collapsed suddenly”.
The website of a company called New Wave, which had two factories in the building, listed 27 main buyers, including firms from Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Building collapses are common in Bangladesh. Many multi-storey blocks are built in violation of construction standards.
In 2005, dozens were killed after a multi-storey garment factory collapsed in the same area.
Fires are also a problem in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry, the second biggest in the world.
In November, more than a hundred workers were killed in a fire at a factory in an industrial suburb of Dhaka. It caused a public outcry over safety standards.
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