More than 70 people are dead and some 600 injured in Bangladesh following the collapse of an eight-story building on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.
The building, called Rana Plaza, housed several garment factories in the town of Savar. A fireman at the scene told Reuters that about 2,000 people were inside when the upper floors jolted down on top of each other Wednesday.
“I was at work on the third floor, and then suddenly I heard a deafening sound, but couldn’t understand what was happening. I ran and was hit by something on my head,” Sohra Begum, a worker at one of the garment factories, told the Press Trust of India.
M.M. Niazuddin, the government’s health secretary, told Reuters that at least 76 people were confirmed dead. Another official said hundreds were being treated for injuries.
“We assume scores of people are still trapped inside and many of them would have died,” Bangladeshi Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Huq was quoted by PTI as saying.
Mohammad Asaduzzaman, in charge of the area’s police station, told Reuters that the factory owners appeared to have ignored a warning not to allow their workers into the building after a crack was detected in the block on Tuesday.
Photographs show rescue workers and the Army frantically searching through the rubble, looking for survivors as onlookers dig with their bare hands.
NPR’s Julie McCarthy, reporting from New Delhi, India, says that the building collapse is just “the latest tragic accident to hit the country’s booming garment industry, one of the main drivers of the Bangladeshi economy, accounting for approximately 80 percent of exports.”
“Critics have condemned the government and global brands that earn billions from Bangladeshi cheap labor for not doing more to improve conditions,” she says. “In November, a fire at a Dhaka garment factory killed 112 people, and triggered an outcry over safety standards.”