Cranes used in 2nd phase Savar rescue operations

The second phase of the rescue operations in Savar began on Sunday morning. This phase involves the use of heavy equipment to dislodge the rubble of Rana Plaza, the eight-storey building which collapsed on Wednesday. The deployment of heavy equipment created a furore among the relatives of missing workers as they felt this would crush their last hope of finding their dear ones alive. Members of the rescue team claimed they have decided to use heavy equipment only after they became certain that there was no survivor inside the building.
Though officials said the death toll was 389 till Monday, unofficial sources claimed that it rose to 402, including the five bodies recovered on Sunday. So far, nearly 2,444 people were rescued from the rubble and the search for survivors is still going on, said Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Surwardi, general officer commanding of the Savar Cantonment.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited the site of the building collapse and the injured people undergoing treatment at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar. Health minister ABM Ruhul Haque, state minister for home affairs, Shamsul Haque Tuku, and some other Awami League leaders accompanied the Premier.
“The second phase of the rescue operations has started with two hydraulic cranes,” ISPR director M Shahinul Islam said around 12:10 pm. He added that the cranes were brought from Jatrabari.
Brig. Gen. Ajmal Kabir, head of the Engineering Brigade of the Bangladesh Army, said, “We’ve started this phase of operations from last night. It will continue till the entire operation is over.”
“We’re using cranes. And we are cutting huge slabs from the top and lifting those so as to ensure that no secondary collapse occurs in the already collapsed building. That will be a total disaster,” he added.
Army officers said they have launched the second phase of the operation with apprehensions that no one is alive under the ruins of the building.
They, however, maintained that the entire operation is being conducted with extreme caution. They said the operation would take considerable time.
A fire broke out at the site on Sunday night around 10 pm under the debris. Smoke was seen rising from the debris on Monday morning.
Fire Service and Civil Defence director general Ali Ahmed Khan told The Independent that fire-fighters were finding it difficult to control the flames as bales of clothes are littered under the wreckage. Five people, including two civilians, suffered burn injures in the incident.
The rescuers were trying to pull out a woman alive when the fire broke out on the second floor of the collapsed building. The woman could not be lifted out alive. “We could not save the woman. Her name was Shahina and she hailed from Kushtia,” one of the injured fire-fighters told reporters.
The massive salvage mission with the deployment of heavy equipment started soon after that.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF) on Monday demanded a fair investigation into the Savar tragedy and punishment for those involved in the incident. They urged all, especially the owners of industrial units, to remain careful so as to preclude such accidents in future.
“We need to break free from the blame-game culture. We need to be more responsible. Factory owners must play an active role to that end,” BEF president M Fazlul Hoque told reporters at a press conference at the MCCI conference room.
Another victim of the Rana Plaza collapse died on Monday at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The deceased was identified as Mozammel Haque, 25, son of Zahirul Haque of Uttar Salal village in Sirajganj district. He was a swing operator of New Wave Buttons. Mozammel was admitted to DMCH on Thursday after he was rescued from the wreckage of the building. He used to work on the fourth floor of Rana Plaza.

-With The Independent input

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