Owner of Collapsed Bangladesh Building Arrested

Owner of Collapsed Bangladesh Building Arrested

The death toll has reached 377, with 2,500 people rescued.

SAVAR, Bangladesh -- As rescuers battled to free a woman trapped for 100 hours under the debris on Sunday, the owner of a Bangladeshi garment factory block that collapsed killing at least 377 people was arrested.

Property tycoon Sohel Rana was detained as he attempted to cross into India and will face charges. The eight-storey Rana Plaza, like many structures around the capital Dhaka, violated building regulations.

"He is the one most responsible for the accident. The building was declared abandoned. But he forced the garment factories and workers to work on the building," Rapid Action Battalion chief Mukhlesur Rahman said.

After being arrested at a border crossing with India, Rana was flown back to Dhaka by helicopter and paraded before the press.

On Saturady Bangladeshi police said they had arrested two owners of garment factories based at the eight-storey building that collapsed outside the capital as the death toll rose to at least 324.

"We've arrested Bazlus Samad, the chairman of New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style factories, and Mahmudur Rahaman Tapash, a managing director of one of these plants, after midnight," deputy chief of Dhaka police Shyaml Mukherjee said.

Police have filed a case against them for "death due to negligence", he said, after the prime minister said the owners forced the workers to return to work despite cracks having appeared in the building a day earlier. Survivors said the building developed visible cracks on Tuesday evening, but factory bosses had demanded staff return to the production lines despite a police evacuation order.

One manager for the New Wave Styles company, one of the five manufacturers in the building, said the owner had consulted an engineer but then ignored his warnings.

At the site of the collapsed building, hundreds of rescuers continued the grim and painstaking task of searching for survivors.

Another two people were pulled out alive after daybreak on Sunday and later a woman's feeble cries were detected, with efforts to tunnel through the debris to reach her being beamed live on television as doctors stood by.

But slowly the focus was turning from one of rescue to clean-up, with the ever-growing stench of decomposition indicating many more bodies will be found once heavy lifting and earth-moving equipment gets to work.

By Sunday evening, the confirmed death toll had reached 377, according to deputy administrator of Dhaka district, Zillur Rahman Chowdhury.

About 2,500 people have been rescued from the scene of the disaster, some only after undergoing amputations to free them from the pancaked slabs of reinforced concrete.

"We have moved heavy equipment to the site but are still waiting for the clearance from the rescue workers inside the wreckage that no one is trapped alive," national fire chief Ahmed Ali said at the scene.

Rescuers have been using only hand tools such as cutters and drills, fearing the use of cranes would jeopardize the chances of survival of anyone still clinging on after the accident on Wednesday morning.

As the cranes prepared to get to work, hope was turning to anger amid criticism of the slow pace of efforts, with some experts decrying a lack of coordination in the operation or foreign help.

-Kamrul Hasan Khan,AFP

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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