Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Engineers held over factory failure

Bangladeshi rescue workers search the rubble at the site of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka (AP)

Police in Bangladesh have arrested two owners of a garment factory in a shoddily-constructed building that collapsed this week, killing at least 324 people, as protests spread to a second city with hundreds of people throwing stones and setting fire to vehicles.

Police also detained for questioning two engineers who were involved in approving the design of the eight-story building. The wife of the building owner, who is on the run, was also detained in an attempt to force him to surrender.

Rescue workers continued to bring badly decomposed bodies out of the tangled mess of concrete, bricks and steel amid frenzied efforts to pull out remaining survivors, more than three days after the building came down in the worst tragedy to hit Bangladesh's massive, but poorly regulated, garment industry that supplies clothes to top Western brand names.

Teams were going in from seven entry points gouged into the rubble. Every once in a while a body would be brought out, covered in cloth and plastic, to a spot where ambulances were parked. Workers furiously sprayed air-fresheners on the bodies to cover the stench, leaving the air thick with the smell of death and cheap perfume.

The bodies were kept at the nearby Adharchandra High School grounds before being handed over to families. Many people milled around at the school, waving photos of their missing loved ones.

Military spokesman Shahinul Islam said 324 bodies have been recovered and 2,419 survivors accounted for, including 19 who were pulled out on Saturday.

"We will continue our operation for more survivors as long as it is required. We are not thinking of wrapping up of our effort any time soon," he said.

Subrata Sarker, a fire service official, said he saw 12 survivors in one place, of whom three were pulled out.

"There are many (survivors) still there," Mr Sarker said, during a break. Around him, soldiers, police and medical workers in lab coats swirled around in frenzied activity.

Police in riot gear formed a cordon around the site to keep away hundreds of protesters who have been venting their anger at the situation since Wednesday. The protests have spread outside Savar, a Dhaka suburb where the collapse happened.

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