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Originally published Monday, April 29, 2013 at 4:09 AM

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Collapsed building owner's property to be seized

A top court in Bangladesh asked the government Tuesday to "immediately" confiscate the property of the owner of a building that collapsed last week.

Associated Press

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SAVAR, Bangladesh —

A top court in Bangladesh asked the government Tuesday to "immediately" confiscate the property of the owner of a building that collapsed last week.

A two-judge panel of the High Court also asked the central bank to freeze the assets of the owners of the five garment factories in the building. They said the money should be used to pay the salaries and other benefits of the workers.

The order came after police produced the building owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, and the factory owners in court.

At least 386 people were killed when the illegally constructed 8-story Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24. A total of 3,122 people were employed in the garment factories there.

Meanwhile, emergency workers hauling large concrete slabs from the collapsed building said said they expect to find many dead bodies when they reach the ground floor, indicating the death toll will be far more than the official 386. One estimate said it could be as high as 1,400.

Hundreds of people waited patiently at the site of the collapsed building for news of missing relatives, holding their pictures and identity cards as they watched cranes lifting sections of ceilings and floors from the rubble. Emergency workers in hard hats used drilling and cutting machines to break up the slabs into manageable pieces.

Ratna Akhtar , looking for her husband at a nearby school ground, wailed: "Give me my husband back. At least I want to see his dead body if not alive."

It is not clear how many garment workers were on duty at the time of the tragedy, which has become the deadliest disaster to hit Bangladesh's garment industry that is worth $20 billion annually and supplies global retailers.

Roughly 2,900 people have been accounted for -- about 2,500 survivors and the 386 dead. It is not clear how many people worked in other offices in the building which also housed a bank and many shops.


Associated Press writers Gillian Wong, Chris Blake and Julhas Alam in Dhaka and Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.

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