Dhaka building owner arrested at border

The owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed last week in a deadly heap in a Dhaka suburb was arrested at a border crossing with India, a government minister said.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested near the land-crossing in Benapole in western Bangladesh, along the border with India's West Bengal state, and is being brought back to the capital Dhaka by helicopter, said Jahangir Kabir Nanak, junior minister for local government.

An announcement was also made by loudspeaker at the site of the collapsed building in a Dhaka suburb, where people cheered and clapped.

At least 362 people are confirmed to have died in the collapse of the 8-story building on Wednesday. Three of its floors were built illegally.

The death toll is expected to rise but it is already the deadliest tragedy to hit Bangladesh's garment industry, which is worth $US20 billion ($A19.52 billion) annually and a mainstay of the economy. The collapse and previous disasters in garment factories have focused attention on the poor working conditions of workers who toil for as little as $US38 a month to produce clothing for top international brands.

Rana, a small-time politician from the ruling party, had been on the run since Wednesday. He had appeared in front of Rana Plaza on Tuesday after huge cracks appeared in the structure. However, he assured tenants, including five garment factories, that the building was safe.


A bank and some shops on the first floor shut their premises on Wednesday after police ordered an evacuation, but managers of the garment factories on the upper floor told workers to continue their shifts.

Hours later Rana Plaza was reduced to rubble, and most victims were crushed by massive blocks of concrete and mortar falling on them. A garment manufacturers' group said the factories in the building employed 3,122 workers, but it was not clear how many were inside it when it collapsed. About 2,500 survivors have been accounted for.

On Sunday, rescuers located nine people alive inside the rubble on Sunday, as authorities announced they will now use heavy equipment to drill a central hole from the top to look for survivors and dead bodies.

Army Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the coordinator of the rescue operations, said they will try to save the nine people first by manually shifting concrete blocks with the help of light equipment such as pick axes and shovels.