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Dozens are buried in a mass funeral. Scores more are to follow.
Published May 2, 2013

Associated Press

JURAIN, Bangladesh - Dozens of Bangladeshi garment workers whose bodies were too battered or decomposed to be identified were buried in a mass funeral, a week after the eight-story building they worked in collapsed, killing more than 400 people and injuring thousands.

Hundreds attended the traditional Muslim funeral and many more watched from the roofs of nearby buildings Wednesday as the bodies, rotting in the spring heat, were brought to the graveyard on the back of flatbed trucks.

Local men and boys recited a prayer for the dead. Then, 34 bodies were unloaded and placed in the graves.

Cemetery workers have dug several long rows of graves where scores more unidentified bodies are expected to be buried in the coming days.

Police said this morning that 10 more bodies were recovered overnight, bringing the death toll to 420. Rescue workers believe many more bodies are still buried on the ground level of the building. They said it could take another five days to clear tons of rubble with cranes and cutting machines.

"I would not have to take part in this if the government acted more responsibly," said Rasel Islam, a 32-year-old man who attended the burial.

Five garment factories were housed in the illegally constructed Rana Plaza building that collapsed April 24. The disaster and a garment factory fire five months earlier that killed 112 people exposed the unsafe conditions plaguing Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year garment industry that supplies many global retailers.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was shocked that some of the workers were living on $50 a month.

"This was the payment of these people who have died ... and this is called 'slave labor,' " he said.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said businesses operating in the Rana Plaza appeared to have links to numerous companies in the United States and Europe. "We'll continue to engage with U.S. companies to discuss what role they can play in improving conditions," he told reporters. He did not give details on the companies.