Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

New bid to free trapped workers

People and rescuers gather after an eight-storey building housing several garment factories collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP Photo)

Rescuers at a collapsed factory in Bangladesh have found more survivors - but also more corpses which pushed the death toll past 300.

Angry relatives fought with police who held them back from the wrecked, eight-story Rana Plaza building, as search-and-rescue operations went on more than two days after the structure crumbled.

Amid the cries for help and the smell of decaying bodies, the rescue of 18-year-old Mussamat Anna came at a high cost -emergency crews cut off the garment worker's mangled right hand to pull her free from the debris.

"First a machine fell over my hand, and I was crushed under the debris. Then the roof collapsed over me," she said from a hospital bed in Dhaka.

More than 40 survivors were found on Friday at the Rana Plaza, said fire service inspector Shafiqul Islam. Through holes in the structure, he gave them water and juice packs to combat dehydration in the stifling heat and humidity.

He said: "They are alive, they are trapped, but most of them are safe. We need to cut through debris and walls to bring them out."

In total more than 80 survivors have been rescued on Friday, according to officials at a command centre. But more dead were also discovered.

Shamim Islam, a volunteer who entered the collapsed building along with rescue workers, said he saw "many bodies inside".

"I threw some water bottles through a hole, as there were some survivors, too," he said.

Officials said the search will continue into Saturday with crews cautiously using hammers, shovels and their bare hands. Rescuers said many of the trapped workers were so badly hurt and weakened they need to be removed within hours.

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