TODAY   |  April 29, 2013

Factory collapse in Bangladesh kills at least 400

The collapse of an illegally constructed factory four days ago in Bangladesh, the world’s second largest producer of clothing, is responsible for the deaths of at least 400 people, while up to 900 could still be trapped inside. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>> we are learning more about the tragic collapse of a building in bangladesh that housed a number of clothing factories. the owner was taken into custody as he tried to flee. michelle kosinski has details from london. good morning to you.

>> bangladesh is the world's second largest clothing producer and this is by far the worst tragedy. nearly 400 people have died in the collapse and some 900 others could be trapped. leading to questions around the world right now, do you know where your clothing comes from? are the people who make our t-shirts risking their lives to do so? a young woman , obviously weak, but still fighting is pulled up out of the collapse, four days after it happened. another lucky one. alive his rescuers shout and hopefully they are not the last after a fire broke out at the scene hampering further efforts and killing one survivor who is about to be pulled free. this rescuer said when i tried to pull the next person out, his body was being torn apart. i had to let go and they would be able to rescue him with more help soon. now the building's owner has been arrested. as he was trying to flee across the border. others with the building that had three floors built illegally and started showing cracks the day before so bad the police issued an evacuation order saying they ignored it. the outrage is far beyond bangladesh . nearly 80% of what it produced goes to north america and europe.

>> it's not something you think of when you are shopping.

>> this is really a disaster. this is a symptom of a system that pushed pressure down so far to get us $5 t-shirts, $9 pairs of jeans.

>> western companies have programs in place to monitor factory conditions, but analysts say in light of disasters like these on such a scale, it is far from enough. one of the companies in this building claim they supplied to wal-mart and they said no, they don't use that company, but is investigating whether an authorized manufacturer farmed out work to the company without wal-mart knowing. that practice continues to be a problem in this industry. matt?

>> michelle kosinski in london on