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Bangladesh collapse death toll climbs to 543

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New Delhi, May 4 (EFE).- The death toll from the collapse of a Bangladeshi textile complex where clothing was produced for multinational companies has risen to 543, authorities told Efe.

Rescue workers have recovered 25 bodies in recent hours under the rubble of the building that housed five textile plants and which collapsed on April 24 with some 3,000 people inside, army spokesman Shahibuila Islam said.

Press tallies, meanwhile, indicate the number of dead from the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar district, near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, has already reached 550.

Government investigators have blamed the worst industrial tragedy in the Asian country's history on vibrations from illegal generators located on the top floors of the building and from thousands of sewing machines.

"The weight and vibrations of the power generators exerted tremendous pressure on the building's structure," Uddin Khandaker, the Interior Ministry official leading the investigation into the disaster, told Efe.

Khandaker said the prolonged use of heavy machinery also weakened the structure of the nine-story building, which he noted only had a permit for five stories, was intended for commercial - not industrial - use, and had been built with "very low quality" materials.

Eleven days after the tragedy, an undetermined number of people remain unaccounted for and are likely buried under the enormous mass of debris that army personnel and other public service workers continued to remove.

The disaster has sparked widespread protests and shone a fresh spotlight on poor working and safety conditions at Bangladeshi textile factories that supply Western multinational corporations.

The employees of the garment factories were ordered to work inside the building on the day of the collapse even though police had detected cracks in the structure the day before.

Authorities have arrested the owner of the building - who has ties to Bangladesh's governing party -, several owners of the garment factories and municipal engineers.

An arrest warrant also has been issued for one factory owner not yet in custody, Spanish businessman David Mayor.

International retailers Primark, El Corte Ingles, Bonmarche and Joe Fresh have confirmed they were supplied by one of the factories located inside the collapsed building.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130504/bangladesh-collapse-death-toll-climbs-543