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Death toll from Pakistan factory collapse hits 44

pakistanLAHORE: Nearly five days after a Pakistani factory collapsed, the death toll has reached 44, rescue officials said yesterday, in one of the country’s deadliest industrial accidents in recent years.

More than 100 injured survivors were pulled from the rubble after the factory collapsed on Wednesday night, but no one had been recovered alive since Friday night, said Dr Zulfiqar Ahmad, the executive district officer health Lahore. It was unclear exactly how many people were in the building when it collapsed, he said, although survivors estimated between 150-200 people had been inside.

“Now we are using sniffer dogs to try to find people,” he said. “Only the ground floor is left … It will take another day to clear all the rubble after which we will be in a better position to tell the final death toll … We fear it will increase.” Survivors said the factory’s owner, who was adding a new floor to the building, had ignored advice from his contractor and pleas from his workers to stop construction after large cracks appeared in the building following last month’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

The owner was among those killed in the collapse of the factory, which manufactured plastic bags 20 km (12 miles) south of the eastern city of Lahore.

The accident will once again raise questions over Pakistan’s lax enforcement of safety and building codes. In September 2012, 289 people burned to death in a fire at a garment factory in the southern city of Karachi. On the same day, a fire at a shoe factory in Lahore killed 25. – Reuters

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