Savar: A Bangladeshi court on Monday sent the owner of an illegally-built building that crashed to 15 days police custody as rescuers began the second phase of the country's biggest ever salvage drill to look for more survivors in the tragedy that killed nearly 400 people.
Rescuers approached inside tonnes of rubbles with modern sensors and cameras in search of survivors, 110 hours after the eight-storey Rana Plaza in the suburbs of Bangladeshi capital caved in on Wednesday.
"We are proceeding cautiously. If there is still a soul alive, we will try to rescue that person," said army spokesman Shahinul Islam told reporters at the collapse site. So far 385 bodies have been retrieved while 2,443 people were rescued.
The owner, who was arrested on Sunday, will be quizzed on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forced labour.
Rescuers entered into the rubble vertically on crane boxes, creating boreholes from the top to pull out the survivors, if found, as the heavy machines removed 90 tonnes of concrete chunks. At around the midnight yesterday commander of the salvage operations Major General Chowdhury Hassan Sarwardy announced the launch of the 2nd phase of the rescue campaign targeting initially the survivors.
"Only Allah almighty knows, how long he would keep his 'banda' (supreme creation) alive," he told reporters at the site when asked if he still expect anyone to survive under the ruins. A senior fire official later said, "It is very unlikely that someone is still alive under the rubble without sufficient air and water...But Allah knows better."
He estimated the volume of the debris to be as high as 6,500 tonnes which could take seven more days to be removed calling it a "difficult task keeping other adjacent structure intact". Mohammed Sohel Rana, who was arrested on Sunday near the border with India, will be held for questioning on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work.
His father was also arrested on suspicion of aiding Rana to force people to work in a dangerous building. Rana was produced in the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in a bullet-proof vest. A magistrate granted police 15 days time to question him before filing formal charges. He may face a maximum punishment of seven years.