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Death toll from Bangladeshi sweatshop collapse rises past 400

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The death toll after a Bangladeshi sweatshop collapsed, trapping many of the workers inside, has now soared past 400 people. By far the worst industrial accident in this Southeast Asian nation's history, Pope Francis found time in his Sunday speech to condemn worker exploitation and "slave labor. Not paying a just (wage), not providing work, focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at making personal profit. That goes against God!" he said, quoted on the Vatican Radio Web site. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Rescue workers are gradually picking apart the huge, splintered slabs of concrete at the scene of the collapse in Savar, a suburb of the national capital of Dhaka. Many of the bodies now have begun to decompose, and are now difficult to identify.

The national tragedy has caused widespread anger among Bangladesh's millions of garment workers over the unsafe working conditions. Demonstrations, involving violent clashes with police, have taken place in Dhaka and nearby manufacturing districts since the disaster.

At a time when workers around the world hold May Day rallies, thousands of Bangladeshis have taken to the streets in protest.

Maj. Gen. Hassan Sarwardy, the military official leading the recovery efforts, describes people searching desperately for missing relatives, wanting to make sure they're not mistakenly taking away the bodies of their loved ones.

Questions remain about exactly how many people are still unaccounted for in the collapse, Sarwardy said in a briefing. Authorities are still waiting for the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association to provide a list of all the people who were inside the five garment factories in the building when it caved in.

Authorities have confirmed the deaths of at least 410 people and 2,437 people have been recovered alive, according to military officials.

The search for human remains entombed within the ruins goes on. Those involved in the search are using face masks and cans of air freshener to try to block out the smell.

"It is a delicate and time-consuming operation, but we are doing everything we can," a military officials. Rescue and identification efforts are expected to last longer than a week.

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