Dozens found alive as Bangladesh tragedy toll hits 250

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Dozens of workers were found alive Thursday as they huddled in the wreckage of a collapsed garment factory bloc in Bangladesh, a rare success for rescuers who have pulled out 250 bodies.

In an announcement greeted by wild applause from thousands of relatives at the scene, an army spokesman initially announced that 40 survivors had been discovered together in a room, but the figure was later revised to 24.

Screams filtering through the cracks in the concrete suggested more survivors were awaiting help, but a steady stream of bodies saw the recorded death toll almost double on Thursday and hundreds remain unaccounted for.

The collapse of the building on Wednesday on the outskirts of the capital is the worst industrial accident in the country’s history and is the latest in a spate of tragedies in the “Made in Bangladesh” clothing sector.

It prompted new criticism of Western brands who were accused by activists of placing profit before safety by sourcing their products from the country despite its shocking track record of deadly disasters.

Hundreds of thousands of workers walked out of their factories in solidarity with their dead colleagues on Thursday as flags flew at half-mast and a national day of mourning was held.

“The death toll is now 250,” Moshiuddowla Reza, a senior police officer of Dhaka district, told AFP from the disaster site, adding more bodies were being recovered and that most of those who died are female garment workers.

Safety problems and poor working conditions plague the textile industry in Bangladesh, the world’s second-biggest clothing exporter after China.

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