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Pakistan Factory Collapses, At Least 21 Dead

A factory in Pakistan collapsed Wednesday night and so far 21 workers have been found dead while others remain unaccounted for.

Rescue workers were digging through debris on Thursday and recovered 102 survivors, Reuters reported. Officials estimated 150 workers were in the Lahore factory that manufactured shopping bags when it collapsed.

Survivors said the factory’s owner had been adding an additional floor to the building and didn’t take heed of the contractor’s advice and the workers’ pleas to cease construction after cracks were found in the walls following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake there last week. The earthquake killed more than 300 people in Pakistan and damaged thousands of buildings.

One of the survivors, 22-year-old Muhammad Ramzan told Reuters he saw the cracks starting to appear just moments before the collapse.

“Suddenly, I saw cracks appearing in the pillars. I immediately drew the owner’s attention towards the cracks. He was watching them when the roof collapsed and I saw him being crushed by a heap of concrete that led to his death,” he said.

Other survivors said the stairs in the building collapsed before they could use them to escape.

South Asia hasn’t been short on tragedies in its manufacturing sector and safety standards there—namely in building construction—have been severely lacking. In 2012, 289 people died in a garment factory fire in Karachi and on the same day, a shoe factory fire in Lahore killed 25 others, according to Reuters.

Bangladesh has perhaps been the most talked about for its subpar building safety standards. A November 2012 fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory killed more than 100, and the following April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse thrust Bangladesh into a negative light for its working conditions and the country is still working to improve standards in hopes of shedding that image.