The search for survivors from Bangladesh's worst industrial accident stretched into a third day on Friday, with the death toll rising to 273 after the collapse of a building housing factories that made low-cost garments for Western brands.
Almost miraculously, 41 people trapped inside the rubble of the eight-storey building were rescued alive late on Thursday, government minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak said, about 40 hours after the disaster on the outskirts of Dhaka.
Nanak said they had been working on the fourth floor of the Rana Plaza building and had all been found trapped in one room. Few other details were available. Around 2,000 people have been rescued over the past two days, at least half of them injured, but as many as 1,000 people remain unaccounted for.
An industry official has said 3,122 people, mainly female garment workers, were inside the building despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.
Rescuers from Bangladesh's army, navy and air force, as well as police and fire services, pored over huge piles of rubble and twisted metal in the search for survivors, using their bare hands as well as mechanical equipment.
"We are not sure how many people are still trapped under the rubble," said Dhaka District police chief Habibur Rahman, who updated the death toll early on Friday to 273. "Priority has been given to save people who are still alive," he said. Wednesday's disaster refocused attention on Western high-street brands that use Bangladesh as a source of low-cost goods.
North American and European chains, including British retailer Primark and Canada's Loblaw, said they were supplied by factories in the Rana Plaza building, which is in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km (20 miles) from the capital.
Savar residents and rescuers dropped bottled water and food on Thursday night to people who called out from between floors.