Woman 'gives birth under Dhaka rubble'

A young woman gave birth while trapped underneath the rubble of the garment factory that collapsed in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka last week, killing about 360 people.

A rescuer has told how his search party found the woman and her newborn under a tangle of concrete pillars.

"The lady who gave birth to a baby boy was rescued on Wednesday after six hours," said Didar Hossain.

"She gave birth while inside the building. She was about 26 or 27 years old. When we found her, she said, 'Please save my baby first."'

Hossain said she did not appear to have suffered any serious injuries and was reunited with relatives.

"After bringing them out, we placed the baby in a cloth. There were other women around who took the responsibility to cut the umbilical cord."

The tale of survival was one of a number of miraculous stories that emerged yesterday. They included a cluster of 40 survivors who were pulled out from a half-collapsed room after more than 72 hours in temperatures of 35C.

"They were not injured much but of course they had become very weak," said one rescuer.

One of those rescued was Mojibur Rahman, whose relations had kept a vigil outside the building.

His brother Norbat said: "He says that he was behind the main pillar, so when the roof collapsed, he was saved. He was not injured but is in hospital as he is very weak. One thing he says again and again is that due to 'the fear that I have experienced now, I will not be scared of dying'."

Three factory bosses and two engineers have been detained by police investigating the collapse. Last night AP reported that the owner of the building had been arrested.

Officials said that the Rana Plaza factory had been built on spongy ground without the correct permits, and that workers were sent in on Wednesday despite warnings the day before that it was structurally unsafe.

Anger at the alleged negligence has prompted days of protests.

The owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed last week in a deadly heap in a Dhaka suburb was arrested at a border crossing with India, a government minister said.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested near the land-crossing in Benapole in western Bangladesh, along the border with India's West Bengal state, and is being brought back to the capital Dhaka by helicopter, said Jahangir Kabir Nanak, junior minister for local government.

An announcement was also made by loudspeaker at the site of the collapsed building in a Dhaka suburb, where people cheered and clapped.

At least 362 people are confirmed to have died in the collapse of the 8-story building on Wednesday. Three of its floors were built illegally.

The death toll is expected to rise but it is already the deadliest tragedy to hit Bangladesh's garment industry, which is worth US$20 billion (A$19.52 billion) annually and a mainstay of the economy. The collapse and previous disasters in garment factories have focused attention on the poor working conditions of workers who toil for as little as US$38 a month to produce clothing for top international brands.

Rana, a small-time politician from the ruling party, had been on the run since Wednesday. He had appeared in front of Rana Plaza on Tuesday after huge cracks appeared in the structure. However, he assured tenants, including five garment factories, that the building was safe.

A bank and some shops on the first floor shut their premises on Wednesday after police ordered an evacuation, but managers of the garment factories on the upper floor told workers to continue their shifts.

Hours later Rana Plaza was reduced to rubble, and most victims were crushed by massive blocks of concrete and mortar falling on them. A garment manufacturers' group said the factories in the building employed 3,122 workers, but it was not clear how many were inside it when it collapsed. About 2,500 survivors have been accounted for.

On Sunday, rescuers located nine people alive inside the rubble on Sunday, as authorities announced they will now use heavy equipment to drill a central hole from the top to look for survivors and dead bodies.

Army Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the coordinator of the rescue operations, said they will try to save the nine people first by manually shifting concrete blocks with the help of light equipment such as pick axes and shovels.

- Telegraph Group Ltd, AP, AAP

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