Sunday, February 25, 2024

Death toll in Savar tragedy climbs to 314

With every tick of the clock, hope is diminishing for those who have remained trapped under the rubbles of the crumbled eight-storey building in Savar. Though the death count rose to 314 till Friday evening, rescuers said it would go up. Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardi, GOC of the 9th division, who is coordinating the rescue operation, told reporters that the rescue operation would continue as long as they would find a single person alive inside the building that crumbled on Wednesday morning.
Several workers who were rescued on Friday confirmed that more people could be found alive inside the building.
Almost miraculously, 62 people trapped beneath the rubble were rescued alive overnight. However, about 300 and 400 people could still be inside. “Some people are still alive under the rubble, and we are hoping to rescue them,” deputy fire services director Mizanur Rahman said.
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) director Md Shaheenul Islam said that so far, 286 bodies have been handed over to the families of the deceased, and 2,475 persons had been rescued alive from the ill-fated building till Friday evening.
The survivors said they saw scores of bodies of dead workers scattered inside the rubble of the building.
Those rescued on Friday included two members of Industrial Police- ASI Mukul and constable Rafiqul Islam.
Savar residents and rescuers dropped bottled water and food on Thursday night to people who called out from between floors. Nearby, relatives identified their dead among dozens of corpses wrapped in cloth on the veranda of a school.
Special prayers were offered for the dead, injured and missing at mosques, temples and pagodas across Bangladesh on Friday. Ten labour groups called for a strike on Sunday at all garment factories across the country.
Hundreds of rescuers including the army, police,
BGB personnel and fire fighters continued their efforts to rescue the survivors defying the stink of decomposed bodies under the crumbled building. Rescuers feared that the number of victims would shoot up as many victims have still remained trapped under the debris for over 50 hours.
Though the rescuers supplied food, water and oxygen to the people trapped inside the building, locals and relatives of the victims alleged that the rescue operation was getting hampered and delayed for lack of modern equipment.
Police, RAB and BGB personnel cordoned off the area in the morning to conduct the rescue without interruption, which angered the anxious relatives of the victims as they were barred from going near the fallen building.
The ill-constructed building housed at least six garment factories and some 300 shops with nearly 4,000 workers. Many of the survivors alleged that the owners of those garment factories had forced them to go back to work on Wednesday morning against their will.
Masud Hossain, 45, a survivor who was rescued after 48 hours, thanked Almighty Allah and said that he would never work in a garment factory again. “I was working on the seventh floor. When I heard a loud bang, I ran down to the fifth floor and stood beside a pillar. It became completely dark. I began to pray to Allah. Then another pillar hit me. I fell down and got my right leg broken, losing consciousness,” he added. “I finally found myself in a hospital bed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the anguished cries of amputees continued to echo on Friday across the Enam Medical College Hospital in a piercing reminder of the price paid by the survivors of Bangladesh’s deadliest industrial disaster.
Dr Hiralal Roy told reporters that the 750-bed hospital was overwhelmed, treating more than 1,200 for the last two days. While some patients had to have their limbs severed at the scene, many others had to undergo amputations in hospital as a result of their injuries, he added. Finance minister AMA Muhith and adviser to the PM HT Imam visited the spot on Friday.

Courtesy of The Independent

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