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Bangladesh building collapse toll rises to 450

More bodies were found overnight in the collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh, raising the toll to 450. The official number of missing was still at 149, though unofficial estimates are higher.

By Farid HossainAssociated Press / May 2, 2013

Relatives hold up portraits of many still missing from last week's collapse of a garment factory building, Thursday, May 2, in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. In addition to the 450 confirmed dead, police report another 149 people are still missing in what has become the worst disaster for Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year garment industry that supplies global retailers.

Ismail Ferdous / AP

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DHAKA, Bangladesh

More bodies were found overnight in a collapsed building in Bangladesh, raising the toll to 450 as workers carefully used cranes Friday to remove the concrete rubble.

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"We are still proceeding cautiously so that we get the bodies intact," said Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hassan Suhwardy, the commander of the area's army garrison supervising the rescue operation.

The official number of missing was still at 149 though unofficial estimates are higher.

The collapse of the eight-story building housing five garment factories on its upper floors has become the deadliest disaster for Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year garment industry that supplies global retailers.

Building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana is under arrest and expected to be charged with negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work, which are punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail. Authorities have not said if more serious crimes will be added.

The Bangladesh High Court has ordered the government to confiscate Rana's property and freeze the assets of the owners of the factories in Rana Plaza so the money can be used to pay the salaries of their workers.

Rana had a construction permit to build five stories but added three more illegally. After cracks appeared in the building, witnesses say Rana told people it was safe to go inside even though police ordered an evacuation. A bank and some shops refused to open, but garment factory managers told their workers to go back in. Hours later the building came down in a heap of concrete.

Among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style, and New Wave Bottoms.

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