At least 87 people were killed and more than 700 injured when an eight-story commercial building collapsed on Wednesday on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, rescue officials said.
The Rana Plaza building in Savar, located 19 miles outside of Dhaka, which housed several garment factories, a bank and a shopping center, collapsed during rush hour on Wednesday morning. Fire fighters and army personnel equipped with concrete cutters and cranes rushed to the scene to rescue people trapped under the building's debris.
According to local media reports, the building suddenly collapsed, and the entire structure except its main pillar and parts of its front wall crashed to the ground.
The death toll is expected rise as security officials said there were about 2,000 people in the building at time of the accident. Many are feared trapped under debris as only the ground floor of the building remained intact after the crash.
Zahidur Rahman, director of public relations at Enam Medical College and Hospital, told the Associated Press news agency that by Wednesday evening 87 people had been confirmed dead in the collapse at the building in the Dhaka suburb of Savar. Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder said another 600 survivors had been rescued.
"I was at work on the third floor, and then suddenly I heard a deafening sound, but couldn't understand what was happening," Sohra Begum, a worker at one of the garment factories, told Reuters. "I ran and was hit by something on my head."
"I removed the rubble and came out with two other workers. But at least 30 other workers in my cutting section were still unaccounted for," a garment worker told Somoy TV.
Apparently, owners of the buildings ignored a warning not to allow workers into the building after a crack was detected in the block on Tuesday, local police said.
Deaths due to building collapses and fire mishaps are common in Bangladesh as builders and factories in the impoverished nation often ignore the safety measures mandated by the government when building multi-story buildings.
More than 70 people were killed after a multi-story garment factory collapsed in the same area in 2005, and last November a fire in a garment factory in a Dhaka suburb killed at least 110 people.