A control room set up near the wreckage site said 51 more bodies were retrieved from Tuesday midnight to 12pm Wednesday. So far 580 bodies were handed over to their relatives.
Hundreds of people are still waiting for their loved ones near the pile of concrete and at the Adhar Chandra High School ground, more than two weeks after the worst-ever industrial disaster struck. They say hundreds of bodies are still trapped under the debris.
One rescuer said the bodies recovered have badly decomposed and were being identified with the help of identity cards or mobile phones found on them.
Most of the victims were readymade garment workers employed in the five factories housed in the nine-storey Rana Plaza. These factories used to produce products for renowned western brands.
RAB arrested the building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana from Benapole while he was trying to escape to India to evade justice. Rana, a Jubo League leader, had been on the run since the accident.
Police have also detained owners of the five readymade garment units.
Bangladesh has emerged as the second largest exporter of readymade garments after China by attracting international retailers with cheap labour. The sector has been plagued by accidents. Human rights bodies allege the mainstay of the economy does not comply with international labour standards and safety measures.
Around four million people are employed in the sector, most of whom are women and earn as little as $38 per month.
Last month’s building collapse has again raised questions about working conditions in the country’s garment factories. This was third such accidents in past six months.
The European Union, Bangladesh’s largest importer of readymade garment products, has threatened to reconsider Bangladesh’s preferential trading status. If such status is withdrawn it would cost Bangladesh hundreds of millions of dollars in duties. GSP is designed to help developing countries to grow through trade.
It is the second such warnings from the EU this year. The 27-nation bloc has urged Bangladesh to “act immediately” to ensure factories across the country “comply with international labour standards”.
After a garment factory fire killed six persons, the bloc called on Bangladesh in January this year to ensure its factories complied with the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.
Over 110 workers were killed in a devastating fire at another factory last November which prompted several US lawmakers to push its government to cancel its GSP deal with Bangladesh.
Workers at the Rana Plaza, who had survived the collapse, alleged the factory owners had forced them into work despite appearance of a huge crack on the building the day before it collapsed.