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Bangladesh police arrest building owners over fatal blaze

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- Police in Bangladesh’s capital arrested two of the owners of a commercial complex that caught fire last week, killing 26 people and injuring about 70, an official said.

A high-rise office building damaged by Thursday’s fire is pictured in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 29.    --Photo AP

Additional Deputy Commissioner of the Detective Branch Shahjahan Shaju told The Associated Press early Sunday that they arrested F.R. Tower’s owners Tasvir-ul-Islam and S.M.H.I. Faruque in Dhaka after police charged them with negligence and violations of a building code that resulted in casualties. In cases where deaths occur as a result of negligence, defendants also usually face culpable homicide charges.
The blaze that burned for several hours Thursday trapped people inside the building, some shouting for help from windows on upper floors and the roof.
Authorities say the complex on a busy avenue in Dhaka’s Banani commercial district had no fire-protected staircases and some top floors of the 22-story building were illegally constructed.
Shahju said Islam, who is the chief executive of the Quasem Drycells Ltd., was the owner of the top three floors that had no permission for the construction and Faruque was the land owner of the complex. There were other partners who jointly own the building and police were looking for the chief of the construction company that built the complex.
Islam, a district level leader, is tied to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Officials said earlier that the owners of the complex sought permission from the Capital Development Authority in 1996 to construct an 18-story complex but later raised it illegally. Fire officials said the complex did not have adequate fire protection and detection system in place despite repeated warnings by them during previous inspections.
Corruption and lack of monitoring often create scope for the builders and owners to slip through holes in Bangladesh, which is seeking to grow economically further after maintaining more than 6 percent growth for last decade.
The fire was the latest in a country where crowding, flouted building regulations and safety norms have made deadly blazes common.

(Latest Update
April 1,

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