Bangladesh Death Toll Climbs to 380; Crowds Want Building Owner Punished

Hopes are beginning to fade in Bangladesh to find more survivors in the rubble of the eight-story building that collapsed last week, as the death toll rose to 380 victims.

"There is little hope of finding anyone alive. Our men went inside and saw some dead bodies in the ground floor. But no one was seen alive," said Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Khan, the chief of the fire brigade.

Meanwhile, the owner of the building where 3,000 people were employed has been arrested while trying to escape to India. Mohammed Sohel Rana will now face charges of negligence, The Associated Press said, as authorities believe he did not provide a proper warning about the cracks inside Rana Plaza, where five garment factories were operating when it collapsed.

Although officials had said that the building needed to be evacuated on Tuesday, a day before it collapsed, the warnings weren't heeded. The disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar marks the single biggest loss of life the country has experienced.

Around 2,500 survivors have been accounted for so far, with soldiers, firefighters and volunteers working tirelessly around the clock to save as many people as possible. Hydraulic cranes and heavy cutting machines had been deployed to break up blocks of concrete, allowing workers to reach people that may have been trapped deeper inside the rubble.

"We are giving the highest priority to saving people, but there is little hope of finding anyone alive," added army spokesman Shahinul Islam.

Crowds in the South Asian country have been protesting against the unsafe building conditions that have led to serious incidents in the past as well. In November 2012, a major fire at a Tazreen Fashion factory near Dhaka killed 112 people.

Reuters noted that seven other people besides Rana have been arrested, including four factory bosses, two engineers and Abdul Khalek, the building owner's father.

Rana was seen being brought back to the capital in handcuffs, with angry crowds blaming him for the disaster and calling for the strongest possible punishment.

"Put the killer on the gallows, he is not worth of any mercy or lenient penalty," one protester seen on TV reportedly said. Others chanted "hang him, hang him!" Reuters noted.

Capital punishment is legal in Bangladesh, a heavily Muslim country, and the building owner may face the death penalty if convicted of murder or the most serious category of manslaughter.

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