DHAKA - Frantic search continued Thursday, April 25, for survivors of a collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh, which killed more than 180 people, as a state of mourning was declared in the Muslim Asian country.
"An unspecified number of victims are still trapped," Mizanur Rahman, a rescue worker with the fire brigade, told Reuters as he clambered over the wreckage.
"We can't be certain of getting them all out alive. We are losing a bit of hope."
More than 180 people died when an eight-storey garment building in Savar, 30 km outside the capital Dhaka, collapsed Wednesday.
More than 1,000 people were injured.
"The whole building collapsed like a pancake within minutes. Most workers did not have any chance to escape," national fire department chief Ahmed Ali told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"We can still hear the faint cries of some trapped people."
Local residents helped pull survivors from the twisted wreckage of the collapsed Rana Plaza building.
"I was at work on the third floor, and then suddenly I heard a deafening sound, but couldn't understand what was happening," said factory worker Zohra Begum.
"I ran and was hit by something on my head."
The government declared a national day of mourning and flags were flown half mast at all official buildings.
Mohammad Mosharraf, who was rescued on Thursday after 26 hours, said he had been hit on the head by something heavy and knocked unconscious when the building came down.
"When I regain my sense I found another four colleagues are also trapped under the debris of the building," he told Reuters.
"We desperately tried to shout for someone to rescue us. Initially we didn't receive any response, but we moved to another part of the floor and found some light and heard voices."
Survivors say they have been forced by managers to return to work at the building though it had developed cracks a day before the collapse.
"The managers forced us to rejoin and just one hour after we entered the factory the building collapsed with a huge noise," a 24-year-old worker who gave her first name as Mousumi, told AFP.
Mustafizur Rahman, head of a police unit created to handle industrial troubles, said the factory owners, who have gone into hiding, had ignored a warning not to open their plants.
"After looking at the cracks on Tuesday, we told them to keep the plants shut. They defied our call," he told AFP.
Dhaka city development authority had filed a case against the building's owner for faulty construction, police chief Rahman said.
It filed another case against the owner and the five garments factories for causing unlawful death.
More than 1,000 textile workers besieged the BGMEA offices on Thursday, pelting it with stones and clashing with riot police, TV channels showed.
The workers demanded all garment factories be shut and the owners harshly punished for accidents.
Hundreds of students donated blood at a clinic in Savar after doctors at Dhaka hospitals said they couldn't cope with the number of victims.
Wednesday's collapse highlighted the safety problems and poor working conditions that plague the textile industry in Bangladesh, the world's second-biggest clothing exporter that supplies global retailers.
Last November, a blaze at a factory making apparel for Walmart and other Western labels in Dhaka left 111 people dead, the industry's most deadly accident made worse by sub-standard safety equipment and locked fire exits.
"These accidents represent a failure of these brands to make safety a priority. They know what needs to be done and they are not doing it," Pauli told AFP.More than 70 people were killed in 2005 when a multi-storey garment factory collapsed in the Savar area.