Asia

Dhaka collapse: Death toll tops 900, as new fire kills eight

Recovery efforts in Savar. Photo: 8 May 2013
Image caption The death toll from Bangladesh's worst industrial accident has been steadily rising in recent days

At least 912 people are now known to have died in last month's collapse of a building near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, officials say.

They say rescuers pulled 94 bodies early on Thursday from the eight-storey Rana Plaza in Savar. Most of the victims were garment factory workers.

The death toll from Bangladesh's worst industrial accident on 24 April has been steadily rising in recent days.

Overnight, a fire at a clothing factory in Dhaka killed at least eight people.

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Media captionHalima Akhtar, 14, was trapped with her sister when the building collapsed

'Like skeletons'

The collapse of the Rana Plaza has sparked mass protests, as many garment workers allege they were forced to work by the owners despite huge cracks appearing in the building.

The authorities say about 2,500 people were injured in the accident and 2,437 people were rescued.

Rescuers say they are planning to wrap up their work on Friday, and the rubble will then be shifted by bulldozers.

"We've only still got to search the basement," Brg Gen Siddiqul Alam Sikder, who is heading the recovery efforts, told the AFP news agency.

"We've only still got to search the basement. Most of the bodies are now like skeletons as they are so badly decomposed," he added.

The building housed a number of garment factories. A number of officials - including the Rana Plaza's owner - have since been arrested and charged with causing deaths by negligence.

In a separate development, the overnight fire at the 11-storey garment factory in Dhaka's Mirpur district killed at least eight people.

Reports suggest that a police officer and the owner of the factory were amongst the victims.

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Media captionThe BBC's Richard Galpin: "The victims included the managing director"

They are believed to be holding a meeting in the building, which belongs to garment exporter Tung Hai Group, when the blaze started.

Earlier on Wednesday, Bangladesh announced a shut down of 18 garment factories for safety reasons, amid growing concerns over the issue of industrial safety across the country.

Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world, and some of the clothes produced in the Rana Plaza building were made for Western retailers.

The industry employs about four million people and makes up almost 80% of the country's annual exports. However, it has faced criticism over low pay and for the often dangerous working conditions in factories.

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