Mayor Arrested in Factory Disaster

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2013


Three months after more than 1,100 people perished in a factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh, the city’s former mayor has been arrested for his oversight of the building’s construction and design, according to reports.

Mohammad Refayet Ullah was arrested July 24, reports said, citing the local police chief.

Ullah is alleged to have illegally approved construction of the building in 2006, including the addition of three extra floors.

The nine-story Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, collapsed the morning of April 24.

Large cracks in the building had been discovered the day before, and police had issued an evacuation order. However, building owner Sohel Rana reportedly told factory workers on the morning of the collapse that the building was safe.

The death toll in the disaster reached 1,127 after nearly a month of rescuers digging through rubble. Nearly 2,500 people were rescued, but many suffered serious injuries.

Approving Doomed Building

Ullah is the highest-ranking government official arrested in the disaster, according to reports. He had been the mayor of the municipality for 14 years.

Junior minister for local government Jagangir Kabir Nanak announced a week after the collapse that Ullah had been suspended as mayor for approving the construction of Rana Plaza.

Ullah's office is alleged to have approved the construction of three extra floors on the building, although the owner had permission for only six.

Moreover, builders reportedly used inadequate construction materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, to build the new floors.

Bangladesh building collapse
Sharat Chowdhury / Wikimedia Commons

Officials have said that heavy machines and generators used in the factories contributed to the collapse.

Ullah has also been criticized for failing to take action when the cracks in the building first surfaced.

Officials say the heavy machines and generators used in the factories contributed to the collapse.

More than a dozen people have been arrested since the collapse, but no one has been formally charged, reports note. Those arrested thus far include the building owner, managers of the factories, and engineers.

Police officials are currently weighing manslaughter charges against the building owner, according to a Bloomberg report. Rana was arrested in the days after the collapse as he was attempting to flee to India.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Design; Disasters; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Regulations

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