Dhaka building collapse: Police clash with protesters

A protester begs for mercy from a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) member during a demonstration in Savar, outside Dhaka (30 April) Police used batons to break up the demonstration by factory workers

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Bangladeshi police have used batons to disperse hundreds of garment factory workers calling for the death penalty for the owner of a collapsed building.

At least 382 people are known to have died when the Rana Plaza collapsed on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, last week. Hundreds more are missing.

The building's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, is in police custody.

A court earlier confiscated Mr Rana's assets and froze those of the owners of five factories which operated there.

They face allegations of negligence, illegal construction and persuading workers to enter the building in Savar - a day after visible cracks appeared. Two engineers who reportedly approved the safety of the structure have also been detained.

Hundreds of workers held protests in several industrial areas on the outskirts of Dhaka on Tuesday, calling for Mr Rana's execution.

The protests later turned violent and a number of vehicles were damaged. Police used batons to break up the crowds, says the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan in Savar.

Fearing further violence, many garment factories in a few industrial suburbs have been shut, our correspondent adds.

DNA samples

Rescue workers are continuing to clear a mass of concrete slabs and debris. Hope of finding more people alive is fading, and the operation is now focused on recovering bodies.

Survivor Dali Akther told the BBC that the government should have accepted foreign assistance.

Bangladesh's economy

  • A total population of some 150.4 million, 88% under the age of 55.
  • GDP in 2012 was around $110bn - the ready-made garment (RMG) industry makes up 80% of all exports, totalling more than $15bn in 2012-13 financial year.
  • About four million people are directly employed in the RMG industry, most of them women, earning an average monthly salary of roughly $40.

"If the government had taken help from foreign countries, all the dead bodies could have been retrieved within two days.

"Today is the seventh day and the rescue work is still going on. I am still waiting to hear about my brother and sister-in-law who were working with me in the building," he said.

The government has defended its decision.

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir told the BBC that the authorities were confident they could deal with the crisis and that the emergency services had done "a good job".

However, this appears to have been contradicted by reports of sometimes poorly-equipped volunteers scrabbling through the rubble and the apparent starting of a fire by people trying to cut their way through the building.

Meanwhile, officials say they plan to collect DNA samples from some bodies and body parts recovered from the wreckage, for identification purposes.

Local media reports say more than 100 families are still waiting to learn the fate of relatives who were working in the building last Wednesday.

Two companies whose suppliers were based in the building, the UK's Primark and Canada's Loblaw, said on Monday that they would pay compensation and offer emergency food aid to victims employed by them.

Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world, providing cheap clothing for major Western retailers which benefit from widespread low-cost labour.

But the industry has been widely criticised for the low pay and limited rights given to workers, and for the often dangerous working conditions in factories.

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