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Owner of collapsed Bangladesh building questioned

SAVAR, Bangladesh -- A Bangladesh court yesterday gave police 15 days to interrogate the owner of the building that collapsed last week, killing at least 382 people, as rescuers used heavy machinery to cut through the destroyed structure after giving up hope of finding more survivors.

Mohammed Sohel Rana, who was arrested Sunday as he tried to flee to India, will be held for questioning on charges of negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work. His father, Abdul Khaleque, was also arrested on suspicion of aiding Rana to force people to work in a dangerous building.

The illegally constructed, eight-story Rana Plaza collapsed Wednesday morning as thousands of people worked inside in five garment factories. About 2,500 survivors have been accounted for.

Rana was brought to the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in a bulletproof vest, and led away to an unknown detention place after the magistrate granted a police request to hold him longer before filing formal charges. The crimes he is accused of carry a maximum punishment of 7 years. More charges could be added later.

The collapse was the deadliest disaster to hit Bangladesh's garment industry, which is worth $20 billion annually and supplies global retailers.

In renewed anger against conditions in garment factories -- a mainstay of Bangladesh's economy -- hundreds of workers poured into the streets in the Dhaka suburb of Ashulia and set fire to an ambulance yesterday, the Independent TV network reported.

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