29 Apr 2013

Owner of collapsed Bangladesh building arrested

10:25 pm on 29 April 2013

The owner of a factory building that collapsed in Bangladesh Dhaka killing hundreds of people has been arrested.

Local government minister said Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested near the border with India. He had been in hiding since the building in Savar, near the capital Dhaka.

Fire broke out in the wreckage of the Rana Plaza on Sunday, injuring some rescue workers and further hampering efforts to reach survivors.

Officials said the eight-storey complex had been built on spongy ground without the correct permits, and more than 3000 workers - mainly young women - entered the building last Wednesday morning despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.

A bank and shops in the same building closed after a jolt was felt and cracks were noticed on some pillars the previous day.

Authorities have put the latest death toll at 377 and hundreds are unaccounted for, Reuters reports. About 2500 people have been rescued.

Four people were pulled out alive on Sunday after almost 100 hours beneath the mound of broken concrete and metal, but as the work continues on Monday officials say they no longer expect to find survivors. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has visited the wreckage.

There has been widespread anger at the disaster and six people, including three factory owners, have been arrested.

On Monday, thousands of garment workers walked out of their factories, demanding the death penalty for Mohammed Sohel Rana.

Managers at the country's 4500 garment factories had given workers an unscheduled two days' holiday at weekend in the hope tensions would die down, AFP reports.

But there was a mass walkout in the Ashulia industrial zone on the outskirts of Dhaka soon after it reopened on Monday and workers then began a protest march through the area.

Vehicles were torched and the police fired rubber bullets and tear-gas.