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At least 26 dead in Bangladesh building collapse

The death toll in the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh has risen to at least 26, authorities said Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

At least 26 people were killed after a nine-story garment factory collapsed near Bangladesh’s capital and another 200 were feared to be trapped in the rubble, rescue officials said on Tuesday.

“The confirmed death toll from the collapse has risen to 26 with four bodies pulled out after Monday midnight,” one rescue official said.

Nearly 100 people were rescued alive, officials and witnesses said.

The army brought in sniffer dogs and heavy equipment, including excavators and cranes, to speed up an effort that went on through the night to reach some 200 people who could still be trapped under debris, rescue officials said.

Firefighters said the building collapsed at about 1 a.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday at Shahriar Fabrics at Palashbari, 30 km (18 miles) from Dhaka.

Security officer Abdul Hye said at least 250 people had been working the night shift at the factory.

A massive pile of bricks and concrete slabs was all that remained of the building. Army medical units supplied bottled water and medicine to trapped survivors after cutting holes in the building’s roof.

Rescuers and relatives stood helplessly atop the rubble calling for loved ones. Some used mobile phones to try to contact their trapped relatives and friends.

“Until a few minutes ago, my brother Jamal was calling me on my mobile for help. But now he has gone quiet,” Ruma Begum told reporters. Only Allah knows what has happened.”

Police said the collapse was probably triggered by a boiler explosion. Fire brigade officials said they would investigate.

Shahid Alam, a senior official of the Dhaka Development Authority, said the factory had been built on a swamp without permission.

The factory’s owners were not available for comment.

The factory produces clothes for export, including to the United States. The textile industry is one of Bangladesh’s most important, accounting for more than $5 billion in exports annually—two-thirds of the country’s total exports.