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Death toll nears 400 in B’desh building collapse

Rescue officials in Bangladesh said on Monday they were unlikely to find more survivors in the rubble of a factory building that collapsed last week burying hundreds of garment workers in the country's worst industrial accident.

Heavy cranes were being used to lift huge concrete blocks from the wreckage of Rana Plaza, where 381 people are now confirmed to have been killed according to the latest official toll. The building housed factories making clothes for western brands.

Hundreds more of the mostly female workers who are thought to have been inside the building when it caved in last Wednesday remain unaccounted for. A fire overnight further hampered the last desperate efforts to find survivors.

‘We are giving the highest priority to saving people, but there is little hope of finding anyone alive,’ army spokesman Shahinul Islam told reporters at the site.

As anger continued to mount over the disaster, the owner of the building was arrested by police commandos on Sunday. Police said he had been trying to flee to India.

About 2,500 people have been rescued from the wrecked building in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km (20 miles) from the capital, Dhaka.

Late on Sunday, sparks from rescuers' cutting equipment started a fire in the debris as they raced to save a woman who may have been the last survivor in the rubble. Smoke was rising from the site on Monday.

Arrests and protests Officials said the eight-storey complex had been built on swampy ground without the correct permits, and more than 3,000 workers — most of them young women — entered the building on Wednesday morning despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.

A bank and shops in the same building closed after a jolt was felt and cracks were noticed on some pillars on Tuesday. Seven people have been arrested over the disaster, four factory bosses, two engineers and building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana. Police are looking for a fifth factory boss.

Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League's youth front, was shown on television being brought to Dhaka in handcuffs after he was seized in the border town of Benapole by the elite forces.
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