4 held in Bangladesh as violent protests continue

InternationalBangladeshi garment workers set fire to furniture from a police control room during a protest in Dhaka Saturday. AP

Four people, including two factory owners, were arrested Saturday in connection with a building collapse disaster in Bangladesh that killed at least 353, as rescuers raced against time to save people trapped under the mangled pile of metal and concrete.

Rana Plaza, the eight-storey commercial building that collapsed on Wednesday, housed five garment units supplying Western clothes retailers, a branch of a private bank and about 300 shops.

At least 353 bodies have been pulled out so far, said a police officer at the makeshift control room set up near the collapse site. At least 2,431 people have been pulled out alive as the country witnessed its biggest ever rescue drill.

Rescuers said trapped survivors were becoming too weak to call out for help.

New Wave Bottoms chairman Bazlus Samad and managing director Mahmudur Rahman Tapash were arrested after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered capture of the owners of the factories in the collapsed building.

Two engineers of Savar municipality were also arrested on charge of playing down the danger from the cracks that developed in the building. Police had filed a case against them for "death due to negligence".

"The factory owners were remanded in police custody for six days each and the two engineers were remanded in custody for four days each under the court orders," a government prosecutor of Dhaka's judicial magistrate court told PTI.

State-run Capital Development Authority (CDA) said the owner of the building was allowed to develop a five-storey building, instead of the eight-storey by the local municipality, which too did not have the authority to grant it.

A manhunt was underway to track down building owner who went into hiding since the structure caved in.

Dhaka district police chief Habibur Rahman identified the owner as Mohammed Sohel Rana, a leader of the ruling Awami League's youth front. "People are asking for his head, which is quite natural," said H T Imam, an adviser to the prime minister.

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