Continued from page 1

The purpose is to “continue the operation to recover both survivors and dead bodies. In this stage, we have no other choice but to use some heavy equipment. We will start it within a few hours. Manual operation and use of small equipment is not enough,” he said.

The work will be carried out carefully so as not to mutilate bodies, he said. All the equipment is in place, “from a small blade to everything. We have engaged many private-sector companies which supplied us equipment, even some heavy ones.”

In rare good news, a female worker was pulled out alive on Sunday. Hasan Akbari, a rescuer, said when he tried to extricate a man next to the woman, “he said his body was being torn apart. So I had to let go. But God willing, we will be able to rescue him with more help very soon.”

On Saturday, police arrested three owners of two factories. Also under detention are Mr. Rana’s wife and two government engineers who were involved in giving approval for the building design. Local television stations reported that the Bangladesh High Court has frozen the bank accounts of the owners of all five garment factories in the collapsed building.

Mr. Rana was a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front. His arrest, and that of the factory owners, was ordered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the Awami League leader.

The disaster is the worst ever for the country’s booming and powerful garment industry, surpassing a fire five months ago that killed 112 people and brought widespread pledges to improve worker-safety standards. But since then, very little has changed in Bangladesh, where low wages have made it a magnet for numerous global brands.

Bangladesh’s garment industry was the third largest in the world in 2011, after China and Italy, having grown rapidly in the past decade. The country’s minimum wage is the equivalent of about $38 a month.

Among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms. Altogether, they produced several million shirts, pants and other garments a year.

The New Wave companies, according to their website, make clothing for several major North American and European retailers.

Britain’s Primark acknowledged it was using a factory in Rana Plaza, but many other retailers distanced themselves from the disaster, saying they were not involved with the factories at the time of the collapse or had not ordered garments from them recently.

Wal-Mart said none of its clothing had been authorized to be made in the facility, but it is investigating whether there was any unauthorized production.

• AP writers Farid Hossain and Gillian Wong in Dhaka contributed to this article.