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May 07, 2013

Bangladesh Collapse Death Toll Passes 700

by VOA News

The death toll from Bangladesh's garment factory building collapse has passed 700, as workers continue to look for bodies in the rubble.

Police say workers pulled more bodies from the debris Tuesday, increasing the confirmed death toll to 705.

Authorities say they have found it increasingly difficult to identify the bodies from the April 24 collapse. They say they are relying in many cases on the identification cards and mobile phones found in the pockets of the deceased.

Bangladesh's finance minister said last week the collapse was not "really serious," calling the incident an "accident." Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said he is "not worried" it will influence foreign garment retailers to leave the country. He said such incidents happen everywhere.

Bangladesh's $20-billion textile industry accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country's exports. Several foreign textile companies have pledged to provide assistance to the families of those killed while making their goods.

Authorities have arrested at least nine people in the aftermath of the accident. Among the detainees are the owner of the building, the owners of several factories housed inside, and engineers responsible for the building's construction.

More than 3,000 people were in the building when it collapsed.