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62 rescued from rubble almost two days after Bangladesh factory collapse

Andrew Biraj / Reuters

Rescue workers carry a garment worker alive from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Sixty-two people were rescued from the ruins of a collapsed Bangladesh factory building late Thursday and early Friday - nearly two days after it collapsed, killing 292 people - according to officials.

A group of 41 people was found alive in what had been a fourth-floor room in the Rana Plaza building, in the Savar suburb of Dhaka, government minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak said, according to Reuters.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is in charge of the rescue operation, said the death toll had reached 290 and that a total of 2,200 people had been rescued, The Associated Press reported.

It is not clear how many people were inside when the building collapsed, but 3,122 workers were employed there, according to a garment manufacturers’ group, mainly making cheap clothes for Western companies.

There were fears that between 300 and 400 people were still inside. "Some people are still alive under the rubble and we are hoping to rescue them," deputy fire services director Mizanur Rahman said, according to Reuters. Earlier he had admitted that "we can't be certain of getting them all out alive. We are losing a bit of hope."

Cries of people from inside the rubble mixed with the stench of death emanating from the building, the AP reported.

Munir Uz Zaman / AFP - Getty Images

Bangladeshi volunteers and rescue workers assist in rescue operations 48 hours after an eight-story building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Some of those still trapped have been able to speak to journalists.

"I want to live. It's so painful here,” Mohammad Altab said, according to BBC News. Another man said: "It's hard to remain alive here. It would have been better to die than enduring such pain to live on."

A military official, Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, told reporters that search and rescue operations would continue until at least Saturday, the AP reported.

"We know a human being can survive for up to 72 hours in this situation. So our efforts will continue non-stop," he said.

Anger is growing in Bangladesh over poor safety standards.

The collapse prompted thousands of workers from the hundreds of garment factories across the Savar area to take to the streets in protest, Reuters said.

The AP noted that Bangladesh has among the lowest wages in the world, making it a magnet for numerous global brands.

This has helped make Bangladesh the world's second-largest apparel exporter.

The bulk of exports - 60 percent – go to Europe. The United States takes 23 percent and Canada takes 5 percent, according to Reuters.

Primark, a unit of Associated British Foods, has confirmed one of its suppliers occupied the second floor of the building, the news service said.  Danish retailer PWT Group, which owns the Texman brand, said it had been using a factory in the building for seven years.

An eight-story building that housed several garment factories at a shopping mall in Bangladesh has collapsed. More than 100 are dead and scores are trapped. John Sparks, Channel Four Europe reports.

Canada's Loblaw, a unit of food processing and distribution firm George Weston Ltd, said one factory made a small number of items for its "Joe Fresh" label, Reuters reported. Primark, Loblaw and PWT operate under codes of conduct aimed at ensuring products are made in good working conditions.

Police told Reuters that the owner of the building, Mohammed Sohel Rana, a local politician from the ruling Awami League, was told of dangerous cracks on Tuesday and was now on the run.

While a bank in the building closed on Wednesday because of the warnings, the five clothing companies told their workers there was no danger, industry officials told Reuters.

"We asked the garment owners to keep it closed," Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Mohammad Atiqul Islam said.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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