3 May 2013

Bangladesh building death toll now over 500

7:42 pm on 3 May 2013

The death toll from the collapse of an eight-storey factory building in Bangladesh has passed 500.

The Rana Plaza commercial building on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka collapsed about 9am (local time) on 24 April.

More than 20 bodies were pulled from the rubble of the building in Savar overnight on Thursday, bringing the total to 501, the army said.

The building contained five clothing factories and scores of workers are still unaccounted for. Nine people, including the building's owner, have been arrested.

No survivors have been found in the past four days, but many relatives are still waiting at the scene for news of their loved ones. Officials say 2437 people have been rescued from the building following its collapse.

Excluding the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the deadliest industrial structural failure in modern times was the Sampoong department store collapse in Seoul, South Korea, in 1995, that cost the lives of 502 people, the BBC reports.

Engineer arrested

Late on Thursday, police arrested another engineer in connection with the disaster. They say Abdur Razzak Khan acted as a consultant for Rana Plaza owner Mohammed Sohel Rana, who is suspected of illegally adding more floors to the building.

Bangladeshi media reported that Mr Khan had been called to inspect the building after it developed cracks the day before the collapse.

He later appeared on a private television station saying he had told the owners to evacuate the building because it was not safe, according to the reports.

He said he had told government engineers that the building should be examined further.

Two other engineers are also in custody, along with Mr Rana and the owners of garment factories that occupied the building.