Death Toll at Bangladesh Factory Rises to 300, but Hope Remains for Survivors

The tragedy is now the worst disaster in the troubled history of Bangladesh's garment industry, and the scene is as complex and still chaotic as it is a sad wakeup call with a silver lining.

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More than two days after a tragic building collapse in Savar, rescue crews continue scour the rubble in the hopes of saving a few more lives. More than 300 people are now confirmed dead in the collapse of the eight-story garment factory with hundreds more injured, and the total could go even higher by the time all the debris is cleared. The tragedy is now the worst disaster in the troubled history of Bangladesh's garment industry.

(UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: Rescue workers have found a pocket on the third floor where as many 50 people are still alive after having been trapped for the last two days. The survivors rescued today also reportedly includes two babies who were born in the rubble.)

Yet early Friday workers were still being found alive inside the wreckage, trapped under concrete blocks or equipment, and often surrounded by decaying bodies. Late on Thursday night, one woman was rescued after her crushed hand was amputated so that she could be pulled free. Some of the rescuers were even injured after new fears—that another nearby building was about to collapse—triggered a brief panic and stampede.

A Bangladeshi garment worker who was pulled alive from the rubble Friday, April 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

The effort was made even more chaotic by thousands of angry relatives, who came to the site hoping to find loved ones. Frustration over the lack of information and anger at the factory owners spilled over into clashes with police, injuring still more people.

(A relative mourns as she shows a picture of a garment worker, who is believed to be trapped under the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, REUTERS/Andrew Biraj)

Thousands of garment workers from across the region staged an impromptu strike on Friday to protest the lax safety conditions that led the building's failure. It's been revealed that the owner of the building only had permits to build a five-story structure, but added the top three floors illegally. Even after cracks were discovered in the structure on Tuesday, workers afraid of losing their jobs were forced to return to work, just hours before the building caved in.

(AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

One possible silver lining is that this incident could become a wakeup call for Western companies and consumers who rarely take the time to consider what it takes to bring them inexpensive clothing and other goods. Matthew Yglesias's oddly tone-deaf response aside, the big retailers who rely on the poorly regulated manufactures to supply their goods, may finally demand more accountability when it comes to the safety of their factories.

There's a couple more pictures below, but the bottom image may be disturbing for some.

Reuters/Andrew Biraj


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.