The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 9, 2013

Bangladesh fire kills 8 as collapse toll hits 950

(Continued)

More than two weeks after the building in the suburb of Savar came crashing down, workers with cranes and other heavy equipment were still pulling apart the rubble and finding more bodies. On Thursday, authorities said the death toll had risen to 950 and it was unclear how many more people remained missing. More than 2,500 people were rescued alive after the April 24 accident.

Maj. Ohiduzzaman, an army official who uses only one name, said 100 decomposing bodies have been kept at a makeshift morgue at a local school ground and were to be sent to hospitals in Dhaka for DNA testing to identify them.

A total of 648 bodies have so far been handed over to the families, he said. Some of those who authorities have been unable to identify have been buried by the government.

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus said in an article published in Bangladeshi newspapers Thursday that the tragedy was a "symbol of our failure as a nation."

"The crack in Rana Plaza that caused the collapse of the building has only shown us that if we don't face up to the cracks in our state systems, we as a nation will get lost in the debris of the collapse," he said, urging the government and citizens to work together for reforms.

He also urged global brands not to abandon the country, saying that the workers in the factories — which often subcontract from the well-known brands — should be seen as de facto employees of those companies.

The European Union's delegation to Bangladesh urged the government Wednesday to "act immediately" to improve working conditions in the country's garment industry.

Abdul Latif Siddiqui, head of special Cabinet committee to inspect garment factories that was formed days after the Rana Plaza collapse, said the government has closed 18 garment factories in recent days for failing to meet work and safety standards. He did not say whether the closures were temporary or permanent.

Officials say the owner of Rana Plaza illegally added three floors and allowed the garment factories to install heavy machines and generators, even though the structure was not designed to support such equipment.

The owner and eight other people, including the owners of the garment factories, have been detained.

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