The death toll in the deadly Bangladesh building collapse topped 500 on Thursday, while the country’s Finance minister tried to downplay the tragedy, calling it “not really serious.” “These are individual cases of ... accidents,” Finance Minister Abud Maal Abdul Muhith said Friday. “It happens everywhere.” Muhith insisted that the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s garment industry, the country’s biggest export industry. But he may have his work cut out for him: last month Disney decided to pull its factories from Bangladesh. Although Disney represented less than 1 percent of Bangladesh’s garment industry, others could follow the entertainment giant’s lead.
The owner of the building, Sohel Rana, who is under investigation in the worker's deaths has had his assets seized. Protesters have called for him to be hanged.
Bangladeshi police on Thursday arrested the engineer who warned a day before the disaster that the building was unsafe.
The arrest of the engineer, Abdur Razzaque Khan, was a surprise twist since he was regarded as something of a hero for trying to avert the April 24 disaster. A day before the building collapsed, Mr. Khan had been summoned because cracks had suddenly appeared in the structure, forcing an evacuation. He concluded that the building had become dangerous and should be closed until experts could conduct a more thorough investigation — advice that turned out to be grimly prescient.
His comments appeared the next morning in at least one national newspaper. But the police say that the building’s owner, Sohel Rana, and the factory owners are blaming Mr. Khan, saying he told them the cracks were just a small problem. A police official said that Mr. Khan is being interrogated to determine who is telling the truth.
Authorities also suspended the mayor of the city, Savar, for his part in the tragedy. He stands accused of improperly granting building permits to Mr. Rana, who is a political ally, and of failure to take appropriate action to close the building when the structural cracks appeared.