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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Rescue hopes fade in Bangladesh
Soldier at the scene
The building went down 'like a house of cards'
Rescue teams in Bangladesh say time is running out for people still trapped in a collapsed garment factory near Dhaka.

So far 26 bodies and 100 survivors have been found in rubble at Savar, 32km (20 miles), from the capital. Officials say up to 200 people may still be trapped.

Relief teams have shifted tons of debris with shovels and their bare hands since Sunday's disaster. They say cries for help have now stopped.

But on Tuesday one man amazed rescuers by pulling himself clear of rubble.

We were amazed, it was a real miracle
Rescue volunteer Anisul Islam

It was a miracle that Polash, 25, had survived, rescuers said. He is now recovering in hospital.

"He just crawled out of an open space all by himself, stood dazed for a bit and collapsed in front of us," one rescue volunteer, Anisul Islam, told the Associated Press.

Survivors say the factory, full of night-shift workers at the time, collapsed like a house of cards after a boiler exploded.

Desperate relatives

Rescuers have been forcing gaps through the wreckage to pump air to anyone who might still be alive.

Rescued worker
We do not have the necessary equipment to carry out such a massive rescue operation
Fire Brigade spokesman Selim Newaz Bhuiyan

Several thousand people, including many anxious relatives, are at the scene.

"What sin have we committed? Why would Allah take him?" said Sharmin Akhtar, 23, as she searched for her husband.

Fire chief Rafiqur Rahman told the BBC: "We have not given up hope. We believe that anyone can survive for three days if not seriously wounded."

But he admitted that it might take a few more days to remove the debris.

Engineers used bulldozers to move debris and widen the narrow access roads. But officials say the rescue effort is being hampered by a lack of equipment to cut through concrete and steel rods.

"We do not have the necessary equipment to carry out such a massive rescue operation," Fire Brigade spokesman Selim Newaz Bhuiyan told reporters at the scene.

'Poorly built'

The garment factory, situated on marshland, was built without permission, city planning officials said.

Anxious relatives in Savar
Anxious relatives wait for news in Savar

They told the BBC the entire structure was poorly built and materials used were unsuitable for a nine-storey building.

"No one came to us for planning permission and no official agencies informed us that an illegal building was constructed," Housing Minister Mirza Abbas said.

City authorities were beginning an investigation, he added.

The garment industry is Bangladesh's biggest export sector, employing nearly two million lowly-paid workers, most of them women.

But in this case it is thought many of the victims were men working a night shift.

Poor safety standards in the industry frequently result in accidents, claiming scores of lives every year.





SEE ALSO:
Millions 'to lose textile jobs'
16 Dec 04 |  Business
Bangladesh fire leaves 22 dead
07 Jan 05 |  South Asia
Eleven die in Bangladesh collapse
09 Jun 04 |  South Asia


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