15 killed in Bangla factory collapse

Associated Press

Savar, April 11:

A nine-storey garment factory collapsed following a boiler explosion early today, killing at least 15 people and trapping 200 others, police and rescuers said. Police said at least 300 people were in the sweater-making factory near Savar, an industrial town 32 km northwest of Dhaka, when it collapsed. Fifteen bodies have so far been recovered and “we fear more than 200 people are still beneath the rubble,” said Selim Newaz Bhuiyan, a fire brigade official at the scene. At least 80 injured workers were pulled from the debris and taken to hospitals, he said. Mohammad Alamgir, a survivor trapped beneath the slabs of concrete, briefly spoke with relatives using a mobile phone before losing contact. “He said he was dying and he asked for some water,” said Nurul Islam, a police official supervising the rescue work.

Rescuers used welding machines to cut holes in the rubble to try to reach trapped people or pump air to survivors. They said narrow roads leading to the collapse site had restricted access for cranes and other rescue equipment.

Anxious relatives joined soldiers and fire fighters used bare hands and crow bars to sift through the rubble. There were fewer women in the factory than earlier thought because male workers are preferred for late night shift, said another survivor Haider Ali. Initially officials said most of the victims were women. The government has ordered an investigation into the accident, said Lutfozzaman Babar, junior home minister. The factory was built on a swamp three years ago, workers said. The factory produced nearly 80,000 pieces of clothing for export, mainly to the US, Belgium and Germany, Kaiser Ahmed, an employee said. But he could not specify the brand names of the products.