Bangladesh garment factory rescue resumes after fire | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 29.04.2013
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Bangladesh garment factory rescue resumes after fire

After a fire, rescuers at the collapsed Bangladesh garment factory have begun using cranes and heavy equipment to search out any remaining survivors.

Rescuers have resumed their rescue efforts following the fire which broke out as they tried to reach a trapped survivor at the collapsed factory. Major-General Hasan Suhrawardy, chief of the rescue operation, said the crew was using the heavy equipment "very carefully with a priority to save the survivors, if any."

The fire reportedly broke out as engineers tried to cut iron rods to get to a woman trapped in the rubble of the eight-storey building that collapsed near the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, last Wednesday. The blaze injured several members of the rescue team.

Workers tried for ten hours on Sunday night to free the female garment worker identified as Shahnaz. "We are not sure whether the woman is dead or not, but she could not be rescued as a fire broke out when the rescuers tried to pull her out by cutting iron rods," said Shahinul Islam, spokesman for the army unit leading rescue operations.

Owner arrested

Fugitive owner of the factory building known as the Rana Plaza, Mohammed Sohel Rana, was arrested in the western Bangladesh border town of Benapole on Sunday according to a local government minister. Rana was brought back by helicopter to Dhaka where he faces charges of negligence.

Rana was presented to reporters briefly at the Dhaka headquarters of the commando team, the Rapid Action Battalion. He did not speak during the 10-minute appearance.

A small-time politician from the ruling Awami League party, Rana was last seen in public Tuesday in front of the Rana Plaza after huge cracks appeared in the building. Witnesses said he assured tenants, including five garment factories, that the building was safe.

Also detained were Rana's wife and two government engineers who were involved in giving approval for the building design. Local TV stations reported that the Bangladesh High Court has frozen the bank accounts of the owners of all five garment factories in the Rana Plaza.

At least 362 people are confirmed to have died in the accident, which occurred when the eight-story structure collapsed on Wednesday.

Britain's Primark clothing store acknowledged it was using a factory in Rana Plaza, but other retailers distanced themselves from the site, saying they were not involved with the factories at the time of the collapse or had not recently ordered garments from them. US giant retailer Wal-Mart said none of its clothing had been authorized to be made in the facility, but it is investigating whether there was any unauthorized production.

The garment industry in Bangladesh was the third-largest in the world in 2011 after China and Italy.

jm/ch (Reuters, AP)