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Bangladesh Factory Collapse Death Toll Tops 600

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The death toll from Bangladesh's garment factory building collapse has surpassed 600, as workers continue to look for bodies in the rubble.

Officials announced the new numbers Sunday, but they added that they expect the toll to rise. Witnesses at the site of the wreckage say the stench of decomposing bodies still hangs heavy in the air, as rescue workers remain uncertain exactly how many victims remain trapped.

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

On Friday, Bangladesh's finance minister said 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.

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