Bangladesh toll 550; search becomes more gruesome



THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Sunday 5 May 2013

Last update 5 May 2013 2:37 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DHAKA: Ten days after the horrifying collapse of a garment-factory building, life has become still more gruesome for crews working to recover bodies at the site. The death toll rose to 550 yesterday and the stench of decaying flesh was sickening evidence that the work is not yet done.
The UN’s labour agency urged Bangladesh to close unsafe factories as search teams on Saturday pulled more bodies from the wreckage of the nation’s worst industrial disaster
Rescue workers said some bodies have deteriorated so badly that they have found bones without flesh. Since the April 24 collapse in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, high temperatures have generally been 32 degrees C (90 degrees F) or above, and lows have rarely dipped below 27 C (80 F).
“The bodies are smelling. We are using air freshener to work here,” said Mohibul Alam, a firefighter at the collapse scene. The odor of decay is overpowering just the same.
Bodies have decomposed beyond recognition, Alam said, but he added that some could still be identified because the victims’ identification cards were found with them.
Some of the victims who had been closest to escaping appear to be among the last to be recovered. Only now have rescuers dug deep enough, using cranes and other equipment, to approach the stairs of the ground floor.
The official death toll from the collapse reached 550 yesterday and was expected to climb. The official number of missing has been 149 since Wednesday, though unofficial estimates are higher.
The disaster is likely the worst garment-factory accident ever, and there have been few industrial accidents of any kind with a higher death toll. It surpassed long-ago garment-industry disasters such as New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, which killed 146 workers in 1911, and more recent tragedies such as a 2012 fire that killed about 260 people in Pakistan and one in Bangladesh that same year that killed 112.
Bangladesh’s $ 20 billion garment industry supplies retailers around the world and accounts for about 80 percent of the impoverished country’s exports. The collapse has raised strong doubts about retailers’ claims that they could ensure worker safety through self-regulation.
Five garment factories operated in the Rana Plaza building that collapsed, and many brand labels have been found in the wreckage, but only two retailers, Britain’s Primark and Canada’s Loblaw Inc., have acknowledged that their clothes were being made there at the time. Loblaw’s CEO has decried the “deafening silence” from what he said were more than two dozen other international retailers who used garment factories in the collapsed building.
Mainuddin Khandkar, the head of a government committee investigating the disaster, said Friday that substandard building materials, combined with the vibration of the heavy machines used by the five garment factories inside the Rana Plaza building, led to the horrific collapse. Because of a power outage, heavy generators were turned on about 15 minutes before the building fell, he said.
The building developed cracks a day before the collapse, and Rana Plaza owner Mohammed Sohel Rana called engineer Abdur Razzak Khan to inspect it. Khan appeared on television that night and said he told Rana the building should be evacuated.
Police also issued an evacuation order, but witnesses say that hours before the collapse, Rana told people that the building was safe and garment factory managers told their workers to go inside.
Rana has been arrested is expected to be charged with negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work, crimes punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail. Authorities have not said if more serious crimes will be added.
In New Delhi on Friday, Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith downplayed the impact of the disaster on the garment industry, which is by far the country’s biggest source of export income.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has denounced “aggressive statements” by Iran, after Tehran accused Bahrain of stoking Gulf tensions by making unfounded allegations against it.“This is unacceptable to us,” the minister said at a joint news co...
DAMMAM: A wanted terrorist was killed during a gunfight in the town of Al-Qudayh in the Eastern Province on Sunday, police said.Qatif police received a report that a Saudi man suffered gunshots and was taken to Modhar Dispensary in Al-Qudayh by his b...
JEDDAH: The Saudi security forces have thwarted nearly 18,000 infiltration attempts on the Kingdom’s border with Yemen since the launch of Operation Decisive Storm in March. “The number of infiltration attempts foiled by the security authorities sinc...
ABHA: Several Saudi businesswomen started traveling with a group of friends after recent regulations which allow women to travel without their mahram. These women said they find great fun to travel as a group with their friends and their children, wh...
RIYADH: The United Nations, Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the Kingdom-led coalition’s announcement of a five-day cease-fire, that took effect at midnight on Sunday, to push humanitarian relief in war-ravaged Yemen to the beleaguer...
ALKHOBAR: Jobless Saudi women constitute 70 percent of the unemployed. The Ministry of Economy and Planning said 58 percent of the jobless have preparatory school level education. According to the statistics, the annual unemployment growth rate among...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has found traces of a civilization that was domesticating horses about 9,000 years ago, 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. The discovery has shed new light on the origin of the Arabian horse, which has remained a great...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor in the Makkah region found 250 laborers working on various construction projects during restricted hours of the day. Punitive measures will be taken against the employers of these workers. According to a ministerial decr...
JEDDAH: When poverty is your guest for 15 years, gardens, parks, streets and pavements become your abode under the unavoidable scorching sun. One has to face hardships of hunger and survive on breadcrumbs. This is the situation of a 60-year-old Saudi...
JEDDAH: The negative attitudes of society in dealing with harassment and abuse cases prevent victims from reporting a great number of such cases to the authorities.Despite this, about 3,982 cases reached the country's criminal courts in 1435 and 1436...
AL-QATIF: The Omani security forces have arrested a man who, they said, accidentally fired a bullet that hit a young Saudi girl in a hotel in Musandam on Saturday. Four-year-old Zainab bint Mohammed Labad of Al-Awamiyah was playing in the hotel lobby...
Ramon Corvera, deputy chief of mission at the Argentinian Embassy in Riyadh.* Which particular aspect of Saudi Arabia you like the most? The natural beauty of the desert.* What is your favorite and oft-repeated Arabic word? Masha’Allah.* Which book i...
JEDDAH: The creativity and entrepreneurship community program of Umm Al-Qura University brought together 80 creative entrepreneurs to exchange their experiences and knowledge on Monday. Fawaz Saad, the dean of the institute for innovation and entrepr...
RIYADH: The August issue of ‘Nature’, the monthly magazine of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), will focus on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona, which has affected 1,055 people in the Kingdom since June 2012.The to...
LILLE, France: Saudi Arabia’s firm stand against the phenomenon of violence as well as religious, ethnic and cultural fanaticism came in for praise at an international symposium, which concluded here.The participants of the symposium on "Media Covera...

Stay Connected

Facebook