Savar: The death toll in the collapse of an eight-storey commercial building in the Bangladeshi capital rose to 290 on Friday even as rescuers looked for last survivors under tonnes of debris at suburban Savar. "We have retrieved so far 290 bodies and rescued alive some 2100 people...We now look for the last survivors under the debris (of Rana Plaza)," a fire service official said. He said at least two dozen people were still expected to be alive under the concrete garbage and rescuers now mobilised their efforts to salvage them discarding the dead ones as time was running out for their survival.
Police said two of the people rescued overnight were missing detectives of industrial police unit who went inside the building to investigate into the cracks when it caved in. Major General Hassan Sarwardy, who is overseeing the rescue operation, earlier said rescuers would look for survivors for one more day estimating they could survive as high as 72 hours under the debris and then were likely to go for a massive salvage campaign using heavy equipment.
Witnesses said anxious crowds around the debris turned violent as they lost cell phone links with their trapped relatives and friends under the ruins. Police had to use tear gas canisters to disperse the mob while officials called for patience saying steps for quickened salvage operations using heavy equipment at the moment could shake their ruined structure endangering the survivors.
Most of the victims of the country's worst ever collapse were workers of Bangladesh's main export earning garments industry while the building housed five garment units alongside 300 shops and branch of a private bank. Bangladesh's booming garment industry has been plagued by fires and other accidents for years. The country witnessed the last major building collapse in 2005 when over 70 people were killed after a multi-storey garment factory collapsed in the same area.
Meanwhile, thousands of garment factory workers in different parts of the capital took to the streets on Friday demanding stern punishment against the owners of Rana Plaza. The angry workers vandalised a number of factories at different parts of the Dhaka as those were kept open on Friday instead of showing respect to the victims of the tragedy. They also attacked several vehicles including buses and cars at Shewrapara.