Dhaka: The mayor of the Bangladesh municipality where a factory building collapsed last week, killing more than 400 people, was suspended from office on Thursday.

Junior minister for local government Jagangir Kabir Nanak told reporters that Savar's mayor, Mohammad Refat Ullah, had been suspended for approving the construction of Rana Plaza.

A senior official from the state-run Capital Development Authority (CDA) said last week that the Savar municipality did not have the authority to grant the permit it had issued for a five-storey building at the site, and that three more storeys had been illegally added to the building. "We won't spare anyone... actions will be taken against all who are responsible for the tragedy," Nanak said.

Meanwhile, the salvage operation remained slow despite the heavy machinery now being used to clear the rubble of Rana Plaza, in Dhaka's commercial suburb of Savar, with a handful more bodies found on Thursday taking the death toll to 430.


The US has raised with its companies issues related to safety and working conditions of workers at their factories in Bangladesh. "The US directly engages with the highest levels of Bangladesh government, (along) with exporters, and buyers on the issues of workers' rights and safe working conditions," State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said.

The businesses operating in the ill-feted building near Dhaka appear to have links to numerous companies in the US and Europe, Ventrell said in his daily news conference. "We continue to speak with many US companies that source from Bangladesh about workplace safety and the role that buyers can play in improving working conditions," he said.

Describing it a terrible tragedy, Ventrell said "our hearts continue to go out to the victims". "We will continue to engage with US companies to discuss what role they can play in improving working conditions, including in Bangladesh," Ventrell said.


The European Union has said it is considering trade action against Bangladesh, which has preferential access to EU markets for its garments, to pressure Dhaka to improve safety standards.

Duty-free access offered by Western countries and low wages have helped turn Bangladesh's garment exports into a USD 19 billion a year industry, with 60 percent of clothes going to Europe.

The April 24 disaster has prompted a worldwide outcry at poor safety and pay in many factories making clothes for Western brands, with Pope Francis on Wednesday likening the conditions of workers who died to "slave labour". Pope Francis added to pressure for change in his toughest remarks on workers' rights since his election on March 13.


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