Police in Bangladesh have arrested the owners of a garment factory, on orders from the prime minister. The building that housed the factory had collapsed, killing hundreds of workers and leaving survivors trapped.
Police on Saturday arrested the chairman and managing director of a garment factory housed at a collapsed eight-story building, while the death toll climbed to 351 people as rescuers struggled to free survivors from the rubble.
"We've arrested Bazlus Samad, the chairman of New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style factories and Mahmudur Rahaman Tapash, a managing director of one of the plants, after midnight," Deputy Police Chief Shyaml Mukherjee told the AFP news agency.
Police also arrested two government engineers who gave the building the all-clear during an inspection the day before its collapse. All four face charges of death due to negligence.
The building in Savar, a suburb of the capital Dhaka, had reportedly shown cracks in its walls on Tuesday. Police ordered the structure evacuated, but the owners allegedly told the more than 3,000 people employed there to return to work.
The building's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, only had a permit for a five-story structure. But he added three stories illegally, according to Abdul Halim, an official with Savar's engineering department. The prime minister has also ordered the arrest of Sohel Rana, who is still on the run. His wife has been detained for questioning.
"Those who're involved, especially the owner who forced the workers to work there, will be punished," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told Bangladeshi lawmakers. "Wherever he is, he will be found and brought to justice."
Survivors trapped in rubble
Meanwhile, rescuers struggled to free survivors from the rubble, while victims' family members clashed with baton-wielding police as they tried to access the site. Police said some 50 people were injured in those clashes
"We want to go inside the building and find our people now," Shahinur Rahman, whose mother was missing, told the Associated Press.
At least 29 people were pulled alive from the rubble on Saturday.
But the heat and dehydration threatened to get to the trapped survivors first, with temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and about 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) at night.
Several North American and European retailers import clothing from the factory. Britain's Primark has acknowledged that it was using a factory in the building.
slk, ccp /lw (AP, AFP)