Dhaka: The Bangladesh police on Friday arrested an engineer who knew that the eight-story Rana Plaza complex in Savar was unsafe and can collapse any moment.

Police said engineer Adbur Razzak was arrested because he had been involved in the original construction of the building.

Razzak had been called to Rana Plaza in Savar, 20 miles (30 km) north of the capital, by its owner when cracks appeared in concrete pillars, the day before the accident. Razzak had warned the day before that the building was unsafe.

Despite his warning, thousands of workers, mostly female, were sent back into its upper storey factories when the morning shift began the next day.

The arrest of engineer Adbur Razzak brought to nine the number of people held over the April 24 disaster, which has put the spotlight on the many Western clothing retailers who use Bangladesh as a source of cheap goods.

One firm whose garments were being made in the doomed building, Canada's Loblaw, said on Thursday it would continue to produce clothes in Bangladesh but promised to improve the facilities it uses there.

The death toll from Bangladesh's worst industrial accident rose to 501 on Friday, with the scores of relatives still gathered at the site in a Dhaka suburb clutching photographs of loved ones attesting to the many more still missing.

The building's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, his father, four factory owners and two engineers have since been arrested, while the local mayor has been suspended from office accused of improperly approving its construction.

It was the third deadly incident in six months to raise questions about worker safety and labour conditions in Bangladesh.

In November, scores died in a garment-factory fire in Dhaka, many of them because supervisors ordered workers back to their stations even as an alarm rang and smoke rose through an internal staircase.

Human-rights groups say there has never been a case in which a factory owner was prosecuted over the deaths of workers.

JPN/Agencies

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