Photos by A. M. Ahad and Andrew Biraj for Reuters
Bangladeshi authorities have arrested at least seven people, including two factory owners and two engineers, three days after this week’s deadly Rana Plaza building collapse outside the capital of Dhaka, according to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, the state-run news agency. Although the whereabouts of Mohammed Sohel Rana, the building’s owner, are still unknown, BSS reports that Rana’s wife and cousin have been detained to pressure him to surrender. Since the eight-story building imploded into a mass of concrete and mortar on Wednesday, the death toll has risen to at least 348. Although 29 people were pulled from the rubble Saturday morning, rescue workers admitted to reporters that the voices are getting weaker.
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“We are still getting response from survivors though they are becoming weaker slowly,” Ali Ahmed Khan, the head of the fire services, told the Associated Press. He noted that rescue workers have now reached the ground floor of the debris through 25 narrow holes they have drilled. “The building is very vulnerable. Any time the floors could collapse. We are performing an impossible task, but we are glad that we are able to rescue so many survivors.”
Witnesses describe an air thick with the smell of “death and cheap perfume.”
Witnesses describe an air thick with the smell of “death and cheap perfume,” as workers frantically spray decomposing bodies, kept at a makeshift morgue at the nearby Adharchandra High School before being handed over to families, with air-fresheners to mask the rotting stench. Many people continue to mill around, waving photos of missing loved ones.
Military spokesman Shahinul Islam said 2,429 survivors, out of the roughly 3,122 garment workers the factories in the building employed, have been accounted for.
Police say they ordered an evacuation of Rana Plaza on Tuesday after cracks appeared in the structure. Shops and a bank branch on the lower floors were immediately closed, but the owners of the garment factories on the upper floors told employees to return to work on Wednesday morning or they wouldn’t be paid.