At least 70 people have been killed and hundreds are feared trapped after an eight-storey building collapsed in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, according to emergency services.
Frantic efforts are under way to rescue those beneath the debris and at least 200 people have been injured. The army is helping with the rescue operation at the Rana Plaza in Sava on the outskirts of Dhaka where 2000 people are believed to have been inside.
The BBC reports building collapses are common in Bangladesh where many multi-storey blocks are built in violation of rules.
The building contained a clothing factory, a bank and several other shops and collapsed. Many people have gathered near the scene looking for friends and relatives.
The BBC reports it is not yet clear what caused the building to fail, but local media reports said a crack was detected in the block on Tuesday.
Police told local media that the rear of the building suddenly started to collapse on Wednesday morning (local time) and within a short time the whole structure - except the main pillar and parts of the front wall - had caved-in, triggering panic.
Only the ground floor of the Rana Plaza remained intact after the collapse, officials said, as army and fire service rescuers equipped with concrete cutters and cranes dug through rubble to pull out trapped people. Many onlookers also joined the effort using their bare hands.
Local police chief Mohammed Asaduzzaman told AFP that the situation was "disastrous".
Litu Ahmed, an official at the nearby Enam Medical College, said at least 35 people had been admitted to the hospital with injuries while another 150 had received first aid without being admitted.
More than 70 people were killed after a multi-storey garment factory collapsed in the same area in 2005.
In November last year, at least 13 people were killed after an under-construction flyover fell in the port city of Chittagong.