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Bangladesh court orders confiscation of building owner’s assets

Mourners, carrying photos of missing relatives, have gathered near the collapsed building in Bangladesh.

ABIR ABDULLAH /EPA

Mourners, carrying photos of missing relatives, have gathered near the collapsed building in Bangladesh.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A Bangladesh court has asked the government to confiscate assets belonging to the owner of the factory complex that collapsed last week as hopes fade for more survivors after the nation’s biggest industrial disaster.

The property and assets belonging to Sohel Rana, owner of the eight-story Rana Plaza that collapsed, killing at least 387 people, as well as of four owners of garment factories in the complex should be seized, High Court judges Mirza Hussain Haider and Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar said in a ruling Tuesday in Dhaka. They have also barred transfer of assets held by the five, according to the ruling.

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The collapse of the building in Savar last week is at least the third reported major industrial accident in the South Asian nation since November, when 112 people died in a fire at a workshop that was producing clothes for companies including Wal-Mart Stores. Protesters in and around Dhaka blocked roads and clashed with police last week demanding punishment for Rana, a member of the ruling Awami League political party’s youth wing.

Rescue efforts are continuing and no new survivor was found for a second day, according to supervisors. They have pulled 2,437 alive from the rubble. The government hasn’t provided estimates on how many are missing.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on Monday visited the site, where hundreds are still waiting to learn the fate of family members.

Rana, 38, was flown to the capital Dhaka after being arrested near the western border. Police have arrested the executives of four apparel makers housed in the building.

After cracks were found in the building April 23, Rana forced workers to return to their posts and said it was safe as it was being checked by engineers, according to Mokhlesur Rahman, director general of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite law-enforcement agency.

Rana’s wife and father were among the people arrested. The police have 15 days to interrogate Rana, according to a court order issued Monday. Anisur Rahman, chairman of Ether Tex, housed in Rana Plaza, turned himself in April 28.

About 300 factories employing as many as 500,000 people in the industrial belt of Ashulia, about 6.2 miles from Savar, suspended their production Tuesday after briefly resuming work in the morning as some workers stormed out calling for safe work environments, Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said.

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