Rescue workers are still hoping to find survivors from the collapse of an eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh that has killed more than 300 people and 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.
“Some people are still alive under the rubble and we are hoping to rescue them,” deputy fire services director Mizanur Rahman told Reuters.
The news agency quoted a spokesman for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as saying that she had ordered the arrest of the owners of the building and of the five factories that occupied it.
According to Army spokesman Shahinur Islam, the death toll had reached 304 and H. T. Imam, an adviser to the prime minister, said it could exceed 350, Reuters said.
Speaking to NPR, Anbarasan Ethirajan, a Bangladesh-based reporter for the BBC, says rescuers 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 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 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 over 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 Associated Press 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.”