Sunday, February 25, 2024

Savar death toll crosses 350; many still trapped

After the passage of 80 hours since the tragic collapse of the 8-storey Savar building that housed nearly 5,000 workers of five garment factories, rescuers, on Saturday, were able to rescue 26 people, thus negating the perception that no one would be able to survive for 72 hours inside the debris. Besides, some of those rescued on Saturday said that there were still many survivors who were battling against death, inside the ill-fated building, which crumbled on Wednesday, killing 355 people till Saturday evening. The rescuers said that the death toll could rise. as many dead bodies could not be recovered immediately.
On Saturday, the rescuers made a breakthrough by reaching to the ground floor by cutting concrete floors. They identified some 351 bodies which they handed over to the victims’ relatives, till 3:45pm on Saturday.
Till Saturday morning, some 2,507 people were rescued from the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza.
The rescue work was hampered for 20-25 minutes due to sudden rain that started around 1:16 pm.
“We must salute those common people who dared to enter the wreckage to rescue the victims, as even our professionals didn’t dare the risk,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of the fire service, told Reuters.
Nilufer Yasmin, a worker, told of her ordeal inside the broken building for three days.
“It felt like I was in hell,” she told reporters from her hospital bed. “It was so hot; I could hardly breathe. There was no food and water. When I regained my senses, I found myself in this hospital bed.”
However in an emergency meeting the Rescue team decided to take a pause in the rescue operation at 6 am on Sunday.
“The team members along with media personnel will visit the building to make an assessment whether there was any survivor. If there would be a survivor the rescue operation would continue,” said an official of the ISPR.
Several private companies including Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Reneta, Ajmat Group provided medicines and oxygen cylinder for the victims.
Emdadul Islam, chief engineer of the state-run Capital Development Authority (CDA), said the owner of the building had not received the proper building consent, obtaining a permit for a five-storey building from the local municipality, which did not have the authority to grant it.
“Only CDA can give such approval,” he said. “We are trying to get the original design from the municipality, but, since the official concerned is hiding, we cannot get it readily.”
Furthermore, another three storeys had been added illegally, he said. “Savar is not an industrial zone, and for that reason no factory can be housed in Rana Plaza,” Islam told Reuters.
Islam said the building had been erected on the site of a pond filled in with sand and earth, which meant its foundations were too weak. “There were three big and very heavy generators that shook the whole building when they were operating. On that day, the generators were being used and within seconds, the building collapsed,” Islam said.
Though some sophisticated and heavy equipment were brought to the site on Saturday, for the first time after the incident, they were not used. “If we use the heavy equipment, people who are still alive inside the debris might be in danger,” an official of the rescue team said.
Meanwhile, Mitu Akhter, wife of Sohel Rana, the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza, was detained, while two garment factory owners were arrested early on Saturday.
Asaduzzaman, officer-in-charge (OC) of Savar police station, said that they detained Mitu Akhter, 25, from her father’s house at Shahibagh, around 1 am, for interrogation.
The Detective Branch (DB) of the Dhaka district police arrested the two garment factory owners—Bazlus Samad Adnan, 45, chairman of New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style, and Mahmudur Rahman Tapas, managing director of the two garment units—from the city’s Ramna area.
At a press conference at the PID, disaster management and relief minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali described the collapse of Rana Plaza as “man-made”.
“It’s a man-made disaster, but we are happy with the rescue operations,” he said.
“There is great coordination among the rescuers. As many as 328 bodies have been recovered as of 11 am today, while a total of 2,413 people have been rescued so far,” the minister said on Saturday.
Ali also requested the public not to throng the site in large numbers as that would create problems in the rescue work.
Visiting the site, state minister for home Shamsul Haque Tuku said, on Saturday, that the government was leaving no stone unturned to capture Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar.
Reuters add: On Saturday, Canada’s Loblaw, a unit of George Weston Ltd and which had a small number of “Joe Fresh” apparel items made at one of the factories, said it was working with other retailers to provide aid and support.
It said it was sending representatives to Bangladesh and was also joining what it described as an urgent meeting with other retailers and the Retail Council of Canada.

-With The Independent input

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