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Woman found alive 17 days after Bangladesh building collapse

May 10, 2013 at 6:58 AM   |   Comments

DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 10 (UPI) -- A woman was found alive in the debris of a building that collapsed near Dhaka in late April, the Bangladeshi army said.

Nearly 17 days after the building fell, a rescuer heard the woman trapped in the basement groaning, the Daily Star reported.

Officials said the woman, identified as Reshmi, wasn't significantly injured and was given food and water by rescuers. Rescuers stopped using heavy machines to ensure she wasn't injured any further.

The building in Rana Plaza collapsed April 24 in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

The news of the woman's rescue came as it was announced the death toll from the worst industrial accident in Bangladesh's history topped 1,000.

Officials said the recovery operation would end Friday and the rubble will be bulldozed, the BBC reported.

Officials said 1,021 bodies were recovered as of Friday and nearly 650 have been identified and returned to families.

Although many bodies were decomposed, they could be identified by cellphones found on their person or by staff identification passes, army Capt. Shahnewaz Zakaria said, adding that "most are female garment workers."

Officials said about 2,500 people were injured and 2,437 people were rescued.

The bodies are being taken to a nearby school where relatives of the missing are waiting.

The collapse of the building in Rana Plaza that held five garment factories and thousands of workers sparked protests throughout Bangladesh as demonstrators expressed anger over unsafe working conditions in the garment industry.

Six people, including the building owner and three factory owners, have been arrested. Protesters have called for the death penalty for plaza owner Mohammad Sohel Rana, the BBC said.

The day before the collapse, the building was evacuated when cracks appeared in the walls but workers were allowed back in or told to return by factory owners, the BBC said.

The Bangladeshi government has begun an investigation. Preliminary findings indicate vibrations from four generators on the upper floors triggered the collapse.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, in a commentary published in Bangladesh newspapers Thursday, called the disaster "a symbol of our failure as a nation."

"The crack in Rana Plaza that caused the collapse of the building has only shown us that if we don't face up to the cracks in our state systems, we as a nation will get lost in the debris of the collapse," he wrote.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh announced the closure of 18 garment factories for safety reasons, the BBC said.

The BBC said a fire in a garment factory in Dhaka Thursday killed eight people, including its owner, a senior police officer and a local politician. The cause of the blaze wasn't known.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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