Hope fades for Dhaka survivors


Rescue work on a collapsed building in Bangladesh has entered a sixth day, but officials say they no longer expect to find any survivors.

Heavy lifting gear is now being used to raise slabs of concrete at the Rana Plaza garment factory, where at least 380 died after Wednesday’s collapse.

PM Sheikh Hasina visited the site and some of the victims on Monday.

Seven people, including the owner of the building have been arrested over the disaster.

At least 3,000 are estimated to have been in the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed. About 2,430 are now known to have survived but hundreds are dead or missing.

The prime minister also visited some of the survivors in hospital. Bangladesh news site BDNews24 said she had assured them they would receive help from the government.

Some relatives of those missing complained that the prime minister had not spoken to them during her visit.

“We could have talked to her, and she also could have listened to us,” said Monowara Begum, the mother of one such worker.

Rubble fire

On Sunday night, rescuers working deep inside the rubble were told to leave, as cranes were brought in to lift heavy blocks of fallen concrete.

“We are proceeding cautiously. If there is still a soul alive, we will try to rescue that person,” army spokesman Shahinul Islam told reporters.

“We are giving the highest priority to saving people, but there is little hope of finding anyone alive.”

Fire brigade chief Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan said crews had seen bodies lying on the ground inside, but that “no-one was seen alive”.

Rescue co-ordinators said that work with heavy-lifting gear would be done carefully to avoid further collapses and to protect bodies trapped under the debris as much as possible.

On Sunday afternoon, the operation was halted when a fire broke out as sparks from a metal-cutter ignited scraps of fabric in the rubble.

Four firefighters were taken to hospital.

Rescuers had been trying to free a trapped woman for a number of hours when the fire began, but they later reported she had not survived the fire.

Also on Sunday, the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, was arrested, close to the Indian border.

He had gone on the run after the eight-storey building collapsed, with several thousand workers inside.

According to the head of the team which tracked down Mr Rana, he had hidden in several places since disappearing.

“He went into hiding in different areas and changed locations regularly. Besides Dhaka, he stayed in two or three districts outside of the city,” said Mokhlesur Rahman of the Rapid Action Battalion

“He reached the border with India. There was a possibility that he could have managed to escape into India within a very short space of time.

A total of seven people, including three owners of factories operating in the building, have now been arrested.

Anger at the building’s collapse has triggered days of violent protests in Dhaka.

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

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