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Workers pinned in Bangladesh rubble cry for rescue

SAVAR, Bangladesh — "Save us, brother. I beg you, brother," Mohammad Altab moaned to the rescuers who could not help him. He had been trapped for more than 24 hours, pinned between slabs of concrete in the ruins of the garment factory building where he worked.

"I want to live," he pleaded, his eyes glistening with tears as he spoke of his two young children. "It's so painful here."

Altab should not have been in the building when it collapsed Wednesday, killing at least 275 people. No one should have.

After seeing deep cracks in the walls of the building Tuesday, police ordered it evacuated. Managers of a bank that had offices inside evacuated their employees. But officials at the garment factories operating there ignored the order and kept more than 2,000 people working, authorities said.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association also asked the factories to suspend their work. "But they did not pay heed," said Atiqul Islam, the group's president.

The disaster in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka, the capital, is the worst ever for Bangladesh's booming garment industry, surpassing a fire five months ago that killed 112 people and brought widespread pledges to improve worker-safety standards.

Instead, little has changed in Bangladesh, where wages, among the lowest in the world, have made it a magnet for numerous global brands. Companies operating in the collapsed building say their customers included retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Dress Barn and Britain's Primark. Wal-Mart said none of its clothing had been authorized to be made in the facility, but it is investigating whether there was any unauthorized production.

On Thursday, hundreds of rescuers spent a second day working amid the cries of the trapped and the wails of workers' relatives outside the Rana Plaza building.

In the evening, rescuers found 40 survivors trapped in a room on the fourth floor. Twelve were soon freed, and crews worked to get the others out, said Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shik- der, who is overseeing rescue operations. Since Thursday afternoon, 61 people were rescued.

An Associated Press cameraman who went into the rubble earlier with rescue workers spoke briefly to Atlab, the man who pleaded to be saved. But the team was unable to free Atlab, who was trapped next to two corpses.

From deep inside the rubble, another survivor could be heard weeping as he called for help.

"We want to live, brother! It's hard to remain alive here. It would have been better to die than enduring such pain to live on. We want to live! Please save us," the man cried. It was not immediately clear if he or Atlab were among those later rescued.

Workers pinned in Bangladesh rubble cry for rescue 04/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 12:39am]

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