Bangladeshi police on Sunday arrested the fugitive owner of a factory building whose collapse in Dhaka last week killed hundreds of garment workers.
Reuters reports that Mohammed Sohel Rana was apprehended in the border town of Benapole, where he was trying to flee to India. Rana was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite anti-crime unit of the country’s law enforcement agency.
A leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front, Rana had been on the lam for four days following the collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building that housed garment factories where apparel for Western clothing retailers was manufactured. News reports on Bangladesh television showed Rana being flown by helicopter to Dhaka, the capital, where charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death await, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, advocates of workers’ rights say the collapse is symptomatic of intense pressure in Bangladesh to produce goods at a low cost to American and European companies, leading to sweatshops in dangerous buildings where renovations and repairs are all too infrequent. On the website War on Want, activists launched a petition calling on pro-labor citizens to take action in the wake of last week’s tragedy.
“[Retailers] Primark, Matalan and Mango make huge profits off the backs of the workers in factories like these, and now they must take responsibility for their failure to ensure workplace safety and prevent disasters like this,” the petition said.
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The latest death toll for the building collapse is 377 and climbing, with hundreds still unaccounted for. On Sunday, more than three days after the collapse, four people were pulled from the rubble alive, but the chances of finding additional survivors are rapidly diminishing.
According to Reuters, about 2,500 people have been rescued from the wreckage so far.