SAVAR, Bangladesh — Police in Bangladesh took six people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily constructed building that killed at least 348 people, as rescue workers admitted Saturday that voices of survivors are getting weaker after four days of being pinned under the increasingly unstable rubble.
Still, in a boost for the rescuers, 29 survivors were pulled out Saturday, said army spokesman Shahinul Islam.
Most of the victims were crushed by massive blocks of concrete and mortar falling on them when the 8-story structure came down on Wednesday morning — a time many of the garment factories in the building were packed with workers. It was the worst tragedy to hit Bangladesh’s massive garment industry, and focused attention on the poor working conditions of the employees who toil for $38 a month to produce clothing for top international brands.
Among those arrested Saturday were two owners of a garment factory, who a Dhaka court ruled can be questioned by police for 12 days without charges being filed. Also detained are two government engineers and the wife of the building owner, who is on the run, in an attempt to force him to surrender. Late Saturday, police arrested another factory owner. Violent public protests continued sporadically in Dhaka and spread to the southeastern city of Chittagong where several vehicles were set on fire.
Working round-the-clock since Wednesday through heat and a thunderstorm, rescuers on Saturday finally reached the ground floor from the top of the mountainous rubble through 25 narrow holes they have drilled, said Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Khan, the head of the fire services.
“We are still getting response from survivors though they are becoming weaker slowly,” he said, adding that rescue workers were now able to see cars that were parked at the ground level.
“The building is very vulnerable,” he said. “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.”