Bangladeshi authorities arrested eight people, including two factory owners, after a building collapsed near the capital this week, killing 334 people and trapping others under concrete rubble.
Several relatives of the owners and two engineers were also arrested, the state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported.
Amid the arrests, the death toll mounted as families of the missing hoped for a miracle.
Rescuers pulled a woman who had given birth in the mangled mess of the crumbled eight-story building, state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported.
It was unclear Saturday how the mother and the baby were doing a day after they were rescued. But most reports coming from the fallen structure near the capital of Dhaka were of woe.
Officials coordinating the operation have said the rescue efforts would end Saturday morning and heavy equipment will retrieve the remaining bodies and cart away the rubble.
The announcement ignited protests Friday from crowds near the rescue site, many of them relatives showing pictures of the missing to whomever would pay attention.
Police used tear gas to disperse them, the news agency said.
Protests continued Saturday as large crowds took to the streets in four districts in Dhaka.
At a nearby medical college hospital, “thousands of survivors have been treated,” said Sajjad Hussein, a spokesman for an anti-corruption agency.
“The crisis for blood is acute and the hospital authority is urging people to donate blood for the victims. There is also a shortage of medicine. The local military hospital is also treating patients.” .
Looking for loved ones
The picture of despair was clear Friday at a nearby local school, where bodies were being kept. Hundreds amassed, many of them relatives desperately searching for loved ones.
“People with photos of their relatives, mostly workers of the apparel factories, are asking the officials there for help. Whenever an ambulance is arriving at the spot, everyone is rushing towards hoping to find at least the body of their near and dear ones,” Hussein said. Nineteen people had been rescued alive, Dhaka District Police Chief Habibur Rahman said Saturday morning.
In all, more than 2,300 people had been rescued, police said.
But it may take some time until the full extent of the destruction will be known. Late Friday, relatives reported 595 people still missing, police said.
Cracks appeared a day before
The collapse occurred Wednesday morning, a day after cracks appeared in the structure. It has stirred outrage in Bangladesh over lax safety standards in the country’s key industry.
Most of the victims appear to have been garment factory workers told to report to work despite their concerns that the building’s structure was not sound. The cracks led the bank to order its employees not to report for work Wednesday, and the shops in the mall were closed because of a strike.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association announced Friday that all garment factories would be shut over the weekend “for treatment of victims of the Savar building collapse and completion of the rescue operation successfully.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday ordered police to arrest the owners of the building and the factories so that they can “face legal actions,” her spokesman said.
“It is not an accident, it is a killing incident,” Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told reporters. “All, including owners and administrative officials concerned, must be put on the dock for the killing of people.”