Collapsed building's owner arrested while fleeing to India

INTRelatives of workers missing since the collapse, with army officials in Savar on Sunday. AP

The fugitive owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed last week in a deadly heap was captured at a border crossing with India on Sunday in a dramatic operation by members of a commando force.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested near the land border in Benapole in western Bangladesh, just as he was about to flee into India's West Bengal state, junior minister for local government Jahangir Kabir Nanak said. Rana was brought back by helicopter to the capital Dhaka where he faced charges of negligence.

Rana's capture by the Rapid Action Battalion was announced on a loudspeaker at the site of the collapsed building in Savar, where people greeted it with cheers and claps.

Rana was presented before the media briefly at the commando force's headquarters in Dhaka. Wearing a printed shirt, an exhausted and disheveled Rana was sweating as two security officers held him by his arms. A security official helped him to drink water after he gestured he was thirsty. He did not speak to the media during the 10-minute appearance after which he was taken away. He is likely to be handed over to local police who will have to charge him and produce him in court within 24 hours.

A small-time politician from the ruling party, Rana had been on the run since Wednesday. He last appeared in public in front of his Rana Plaza on Tuesday after huge cracks appeared in the building. However, he assured tenants, including five garment factories, that the building was safe.

A bank and some shops on the first floor shut their premises on Wednesday after police ordered an evacuation, but managers of the garment factories on the upper floor told workers to continue their shifts.

Hours later, Rana Plaza was reduced to rubble, crushing most victims under massive blocks of concrete and mortar. A garment manufacturers' group said the factories in the building employed 3,122 workers, but it was not clear how many were inside it when it collapsed. About 2,500 survivors have been accounted for.

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