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Bangladesh Police Fire Rubber Bullets And Tear Gas Fired At Dhaka Garment Factory Protesters

26/04/2013 10:38 BST | Updated 26/04/2013 10:52 BST
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Bangladeshi police officials stand alert on a street in Dhaka on April 23, 2013, during a nationwide strike called by the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP) in protest against the detention of their leaders. The opposition alliance?s 36-hour nationwide shutdown is being held to press for the release of their top leaders. Recent weeks in the South Asian nation have seen a nationwide crackdown on the opposition including the detention of more than 200 senior officials of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the entire leadership of the largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Rubber bullets and tear gas have been used against thousands of protesters in Bangladesh, as crowds took to the streets calling for better working conditions after a factory collapsed killing at least 270 people.

As rescuers continued to search the rubble for survivors, police clashed with angry garment workers who want better safety standards in factories, many of whom export clothes to Western companies.

There are conflicting reports about exactly how many people have been pulled from the rubble since the eight storey building collapsed, but more than 40 are believed to have been rescued.

Hundreds are still missing, feared dead. Around 2,000 people were thought to have been working in the building at the time.

Bangladesh is the world's second leading garment exporter and the factory in Dhaka that collapsed on Wednesday supplied both Primark and Bonmarche.

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Screams could be heard through the concrete

Cracks in the building had been reported the day before the collapse but managers had forced workers to return. The owner has now fled, according to reports. However the Bangladesh Prime Minister said he would be found and brought to justice.

Across the country hundreds of thousands of workers walked out of their factories in solidarity with those who died when the building collapsed. According to Sky News, screams can still be heard through the concrete as workers remain trapped.

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Bangladeshi Army personnel and civilian volunteers work on the scene

In a statement released on their website, a Primark spokesman said: "The company is shocked and deeply saddened by this appalling incident at Savar, near Dhaka, and expresses its condolences to all of those involved.

"Primark confirms that one of its suppliers occupied the second floor of the eight storey building, which housed several suppliers to the garment industry making clothing for a number of brands.

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Volunteers use a length of textile as a slide to move dead victims recovered from the rubble

"Primark has been engaged for several years with NGOs and other retailers to review the Bangladeshi industry's approach to factory standards. Primark will push for this review to also include building integrity.

"Meanwhile Primark's ethical trade team is at this moment working to collect information, assess which communities the workers come from, and to provide support where possible."