Bangladesh's prime minster and House leader called Thursday for those responsible for the deadly collapse of an eight-story building outside the capital city of Dhaka to be punished.
"None would be spared," said Sheikh Hasina. "Whoever might be the culprits, and if even they belong our party, they won't go Scot-free."
She said the building should not have been reoccupied after cracks developed in the structure on Tuesday.
"But the workers were forced by the owners of the garment factories to join the work on Wednesday, and suddenly the building collapsed," she said.
Her call came more than a day after the collapse, as rescuers were searching for survivors and thousands of people were taking to the streets to protest lax safety conditions.
By Friday morning, the death toll had reached 270, said Dhaka District Police Chief Habibur Rahman. Hundreds more were feared still trapped inside the pile of rubble, over which the stench of death hovered.
About 8:15 p.m. Thursday, about 36 hours after the collapse, 25 people were rescued "from a place inside the debris in between the first and third floor," Director General Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Khan of Fire Brigade and Civil Defense told the news agency. One of the people died en route to the hospital, he said.
He said rescue efforts would continue until 9 a.m. Saturday, 72 hours after the incident. After that, heavy equipment would be used to retrieve the bodies, he said.
Some 2,013 people had been rescued, according to Maj. Gen. Abul Hassan Sarwardy, who is overseeing the effort, according to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
The building fell Wednesday morning, entombing its contents in a pile of broken concrete and twisted metal.
Food and bottles of water were being dropped to areas where people were trapped.
The building housed five garment factories employing about 2,500 workers, a bank and 300 shops, the news agency said.
After cracks appeared in the building Tuesday, many of the workers had expressed concern about its safety, survivors said.
But factory owners told them the building was safe and ordered them to report for work, the survivors said.
"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," Home Minister Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir said Wednesday.
The nation's high court ordered the owners of the building and of the factories to appear in court on April 30, CNN affiliate Boishakhi Television said.
Thousands of people protested the collapse in the streets of Dhaka on Thursday. Many carried black flags; some set fires, and others used clubs to break the windshields of passing trucks.
Hundreds of workers from different factories lay siege to the head office of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association at Karwan Bazar in Dhaka.
They demanded the immediate arrest of the factory owners and called for the death penalty for Sohel Rana, the owner of the building.
The owners of the factories and the building housing them had gone into hiding, Savar police said. They are facing cases from regulators and police over the construction of the building and the workers' exposure to risk, the agency said.
Association Vice President Shahidullah Azim said the organization had suspended the five factories' memberships.
The incident is the latest to strike Bangladesh's garment industry, which employs more than 4 million people -- most of them women -- and regularly comes under scrutiny for its slipshod safety standards.
It also raises questions for the Western brands that contract with factories here to make their products. According to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), the national news agency, the United States receives 23% of the products -- the largest percentage of any nation.
Ninety percent of the country's buildings are not built according to code, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said. "For this, shall we have to demolish all the buildings right now?" she asked. "Why was there no awareness before building such constructions?"
A rush to help, then mourning