Dhaka building collapse: Owner arrested

Dhaka, April 28 (IANS) The owner of an eight-storey building that collapsed in the Bangladeshi capital, killing around 400 people, was arrested Sunday along the border with India’s West Bengal state, a minister said.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested near the Indian border, State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanak was quoted as saying by BBC.

Rana was in hiding since the Rana Plaza building collapsed Wednesday.

Nanak said Rana was arrested near the land-crossing in Benapole and brought back to Dhaka by helicopter.

He made the announcement by loudspeaker at the site of the collapsed building in the Dhaka suburb of Savar.

He said the arrest was made by soldiers from the Rapid Action Battalion.

Rescue workers cheered and clapped at the news.

There has been widespread anger at the disaster and six people, including three factory owners, have now been arrested. The building housed several garment factories.

BBC said two people were pulled alive from the rubble Sunday and a group of about nine survivors was also located.

Teams were using light cutting equipment to try to reach them, and water and food were being dropped to them through gaps in the rubble.

Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, an army officer coordinating the rescue, said they would try to save the nine people first by using light equipment.

“But if we fail, we will start our next phase within hours,” he said.

This would involve heavy equipment including hydraulic cranes and cutters to bore a hole from the top of the collapsed building.

Earlier, three factory owners and two engineers were arrested in connection with the building collapse.

Xinhua said the owner is a leader of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League party.

He reportedly constructed the building without permission from the authorities, and assured the owners of the factories that there was no problem even after cracks were detected.

Six floors of the building housed five garment factories which employed nearly 3,500 workers, most of them women.

There were also a bank’s branch and hundreds of shops inside the building.

Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world, providing cheap clothing for major Western retailers that benefit from its widespread low-cost labour. But the industry has been widely criticised for its low pay and limited rights given to workers and for the often dangerous working conditions in garment factories.

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