By Jethro Mullen, (CNN) — An eight-story building collapsed Wednesday morning on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital, killing at least 80 people and injuring hundreds, the national news agency reported.
“Many more people, dead or alive, are still trapped inside,” the fire service director general, Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Khan, told reporters, according to the national news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said army troops, fire service personnel, police and Rapid Action Battalion troops had been mobilized to the site on the outskirts of Dhaka.
“The fact is we don’t know yet how many people were killed actually … but I can tell you the building was not built in compliance with the (safety) rules and regulations,” Alamgir said.
“Stern legal actions will be taken against the people who built the structure defying the codes or laws.”
Work was proceeding slowly in order to avoid causing a further collapse, said Maj. Gen. Abul Hassan Sarwardy, commander of the army’s Savar-based 9th Division.
Six hundred people had been taken to hospitals in Savar and Dhaka, and to a nearby military hospital, and 30 medical teams and other groups of doctors and paramedics were treating the injured at tents erected on the scene.
The commercial building housed three garment units, a branch of a bank and some 300 shops, the national news agency reported.
Video showed two women garment workers pleading to be rescued. “Please retrieve us … save my life,” said a woman who identified herself as Sakhina.
A doctor at Enam Hospital said a number of the victims had lost their hands, arms or legs.
A national day of mourning was set for Thursday.
The last major building collapse in the country occurred in 2005, when more than 70 people were killed in a garment factory collapse in the same area, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported.
A fire at a clothing factory in a suburb of Dhaka last November killed at least 112 people.
Garments make up 80% of Bangladesh’s $24 billion of exports.
The country has about 4,500 garment factories, where workers make clothes for brands including Tesco, Walmart, JC Penney, Kohl’s and Carrefour.
Journalist Farid Ahmed contributed to this report.