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Bangladesh collapsed building permit disputed by authority

A Bangladeshi rescuer works to break through metal and concrete with a drill at the site of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, April 26, 2013.  More than two days after their factory collapsed on them, at least some garment workers were still alive in the corpse-littered debris Friday, pinned beneath tons of mangled metal and concrete. The death toll topped 300 on Friday and it remained unclear what the final grim number would be, as some victims are being pulled from the rubble alive. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

A Bangladeshi rescuer works to break through metal and concrete with a drill at the site of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, April 26, 2013. More than two days after their factory collapsed on them, at least some garment workers were still alive in the corpse-littered debris Friday, pinned beneath tons of mangled metal and concrete. The death toll topped 300 on Friday and it remained unclear what the final grim number would be, as some victims are being pulled from the rubble alive. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

The day after a Bangladesh building collapsed, killing more than 300 people, disagreement emerged over whether the owner obtained appropriate construction permits, adding to concerns over worker safety in the country’s garment industry.

Rana Plaza’s owner didn’t get permission from the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, Dhaka’s development authority, to erect the building, said Sheikh Abdul Mannan, a planning member of the agency. It instead got permission from the Savar Municipal Corp., a smaller local board, which has different building standards, he said.

“It is clear from visiting the site that they had violated several construction codes, especially the design code,” he said in a phone interview. “I saw the materials used in the columns and the material used for the rest of the building and it was completely substandard.”

The disaster is another black mark on Bangladesh’s industrial safety record, which made headlines after a fire at a plant producing garments for companies including Walmart stores that killed at least 100 people in November. More than 700 garment workers have died since 2005 in Bangladesh, according to the International Labor Rights Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

Hundreds of workers demanding punishment to the owner of the building and shutdown of all garment factories blocked roads in and around the capital Dhaka, private television station ATN News reported yesterday. Some workers laid siege to the headquarters of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in the capital, Atiqul Islam, president of the industry group, said by phone.

“Labor rights groups around the world have been asking, indeed imploring, major retailers to address the grievous safety hazards in their Bangladesh factories, and the response is always the same: vague promises and public relations dodges, while the pile of corpses grows ever higher,” Scott Nova, executive director of the Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium, said in a statement.

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