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Hunt for survivors afer new Bangladesh factory disaster
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Hunt for survivors afer new Bangladesh factory disaster

3 min. 13.03.2015 From our online archive
Rescue teams searched Friday for survivors in the rubble after a factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing at least seven people and sparking fresh criticism over the country's appalling record on workplace safety.
Rescue workers are seen at the scene of a collapsed cement factory in the port town of Mongla, southwest of Dhaka, March 12, 2015. About 100 workers were feared trapped on Thursday when the cement factory collapsed in Bangladesh, a police official told Reuters. REUTERS/Alif Khatok (BANGLADESH - Tags: DISASTER BUSINESS) ATTENTION EDITORS - NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. BANGLADESH OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN BANGLADESH

(AFP) Rescue teams searched Friday for survivors in the rubble after a factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing at least seven people and sparking fresh criticism over the country's appalling record on workplace safety.

Hundreds of soldiers and emergency personnel worked through the night to clear debris from the site of a half-built cement factory in the port town of Mongla, the area's top administrator Shah Alam Sarder told AFP.

Twelve people were plucked alive from the rubble overnight but rescuers, who were using two cranes as well as steel cutters, were having to work painstakingly slowly for fear of triggering a fresh collapse.

Six bodies have been recovered so far and another could be seen lying under the rubble. At least 53 people were injured, including six whose conditions were critical.

More than 90 staff were on the site when the structure started to cave in on Thursday afternoon, trapping scores of workers under a mass of newly-mixed concrete and steel.

"We're trying to reach the (seventh) body by cutting through a maze of steel but it's taking hours because any mis-step could trigger a collapse in the debris or on the other side of the factory" which is still in tact, fire department director Sheikh Mizanur Rahman told AFP.

Local police chief Jahedur Rahman told AFP that up to 10 people remained unaccounted for.

However the fire service doubted whether any more workers would be found, saying that more than 80 percent of the debris had now been cleared.

TOPSHOTS A Bangladeshi survivor of the collapse of a partly-built cement factory in southern Mongla town, lies on the floor of a hospital in Khulna on March 12, 2015. The roof of a partly-built cement factory collapsed in southern Bangladesh, killing at least four workers and dozens others feared trapped under the debris, police and rescuers said. AFP PHOTO / SHAIKH MOHIR UDDIN
TOPSHOTS A Bangladeshi survivor of the collapse of a partly-built cement factory in southern Mongla town, lies on the floor of a hospital in Khulna on March 12, 2015. The roof of a partly-built cement factory collapsed in southern Bangladesh, killing at least four workers and dozens others feared trapped under the debris, police and rescuers said. AFP PHOTO / SHAIKH MOHIR UDDIN

The collapse comes less than two years after a garment factory complex imploded outside the capital Dhaka, leaving at least 1,138 people dead and highlighting Bangladesh's perilous labour conditions.

While that disaster did prompt some improvements and greater monitoring of safety in the garment industry, campaigners say that conditions in other workplaces remain as dangerous as ever.

"The horrifying collapse of yet another factory is a stark reminder that the root causes of threats to workers rights have yet to be addressed across the manufacturing sector in Bangladesh," said Sarah Labowitz, an expert on labour rights at New York University Stern School of Business.

Survivors said that poor scaffolding and shoddy construction was the cause of the disaster.

The government has tasked a nine-member committee to complete an investigation into the case within a week, Sarder told AFP.

Masud Kazi, one of the workers who was injured, told the Daily Star newspaper that he and his fellow construction workers were pouring concrete onto the roof when it started collapsing.

"Suddenly, everything broke down," he said.

"I heard a loud noise and saw the roof caving in through the middle," another survivor told private television station Jamuna.

The police chief Rahman said several people were seriously injured after jumping from the collapsing roof.

"Most of the workers who were on the ground floor were mostly able to escape unhurt," he added.

Rahman said the cement factory was owned by Sena Kalyan Sangstha, a company run by the Bangladesh Army. The building contractor was a Chinese firm called China National Building Material (CNBM).