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Poles Arrested in January Hall Collapse

June 26, 2006

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Three men who helped design a Polish exhibition hall that collapsed in January, killing 65 people, were arrested Monday on suspicion of endangering lives by failing to meet building codes.

Prosecutors in Katowice, the industrial city where the roof gave way on Jan. 28, ordered the men, aged 46, 48 and 69, to be held for 48 hours for further questioning. Two of the men were charged with intentionally allowing an accident which endangered lives and the third with unintentionally exposing people to the loss of life.

``The designers disregarded building regulations. The project and its realization were faulty,″ said Tomasz Tadla, a spokesman for prosecutors.

Among those arrested Monday were two men who designed the building _ one of whom was not qualified for the job and tried to commit suicide shortly after the collapse _ and a third man who acted as a supervisor.

They could face eight to 12 years in prison if convicted.

The arrests came after a formal investigation found that faulty design contributed to the tragedy. Earlier this year, police arrested three managers of the hall, which was built in 2000.

About 500 people were inside the hall when the roof buckled and collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow, leading to frantic rescue efforts in freezing temperatures to save those trapped under the twisted wreckage.

Among the 65 killed were nine foreigners, who had been attending an international bird show in the hall. An additional 140 people were injured in the accident.

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