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Bangladesh urges no harsh European Union measures over textile factory tragedy

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By Reuters
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi authorities urged the European Union on Saturday not to take tough measures against its economically crucial textile industry in response to the collapse of a garment factory that killed 550 people.

Bodies were still being pulled from the ruins on Saturday as tearful families stood by waiting for news of victims of the country's worst ever industrial accident.

The European Union, which gives preferential access to Bangladeshi garments, had threatened punitive measures in order to press Dhaka to improve worker safety standards after the collapse of the illegally built factory last month.

The disaster, believed to have been triggered when the electricity generators were started up during a blackout, put the spotlight on Western retailers who use the impoverished South Asian nation as a source of cheap goods.

About 4 million people work in Bangladesh's garment industry, making it the world's second-largest apparel exporter after China. Some earn as little as $38 a month, conditions Pope Francis has called “slave labor.”

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