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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Frantic search for buried workers
Rescue work at the collapse site near Dhaka
Relatives and surviving workers joined the rescue efforts
Rescue teams have worked through the night to try to reach people trapped in a nine-storey garment factory which collapsed in Bangladesh on Sunday.

At least 26 bodies have been retrieved from the factory, which is located in Savar, 32km (20 miles) north-west of the capital, Dhaka.

Rescuers have pulled 80 people alive from the wreckage but they fear 200 more are still trapped.

Police say a boiler explosion caused the collapse.

Desperate relatives

It is not clear just how many people were in the factory when it collapsed but rescuers fear that the figure may be in the hundreds, as the factory was full of night-shift workers at the time.

My brother Jamal was calling me on my mobile for help, but now he has gone quiet
Ruma Begum

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

Anxious relatives joined soldiers and firefighters and used their bare hands to sift through the rubble.

Engineers used bulldozers to move debris and widen the narrow access roads.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia visited the scene and asked the officials to speed up the rescue operations.

'Shook violently'

Rescuers and surviving workers were shown on local television calling out to the missing.

Women at the site of the building collapse
Many of the trapped are thought to be men working the night shift

One rescuer asked: "How many are there with you?" and received a reply: "Seven, including myself."

One anxious relative, Ruma Begum, said: "Until a few minutes ago, my brother Jamal was calling me on my mobile for help. But now he has gone quiet. I am still frantically trying to reach him."

Eyewitnesses said the building, which police said was built on a filled-in pond, collapsed around midnight local time. Only two storeys are still visible.

One of the survivors pulled from the rubble, Mahubur Rahman, told the AFP news agency: "The whole building started to shake violently."

Mr Rahman, who was working on the fourth floor with 90 colleagues, added: "The next thing I remember is waking up under some machinery with about six or seven other people. The fire brigade rescued me but four of my fingers are crushed and I have chest injuries."

Most garment workers in Bangladesh are women but it is thought many of the victims were men working a night shift.

Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babor said the government had ordered an investigation into the accident.

About 1.8 million people work in Bangladesh's 2,500 garment factories.




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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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