Two more bodies were recovered from the debris of the collapsed eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar on Tuesday morning. With this, the death toll rose to 389, Dhaka district deputy commissioner Md Yusuf Harun said. Nearly 111 hours after the Rana Plaza had collapsed, the second phase of the rescue operation using heavy equipment started at 12:10 am on Monday. Nearly 2,435 people have been rescued so far, and the search for survivors is still going on, Harun said.
So far, 343 bodies have been handed over to the victims’ families. Of those rescued, one died at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on Tuesday, executive magistrate Shamima Shanti said. She also said that there were 23 dead bodies at the DMCH morgue and 22 bodies at the Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital morgue.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday reiterated that her government would take necessary steps for rehabilitation of the families of the garment workers who were killed and injured in the Savar building collapse. She was speaking to the leaders of Peshajibi Shomonnoy Parishad at her office.
Hasan Suhrawardy, co-ordinator of the rescue team, at a press briefing said, “We heard that some 3,200 persons used to work in the building. Some might not have come to duty on April 24 due to hartal.”
Brig. Gen. Ajmal Kabir, head of the engineering brigade of the Bangladesh Army and supervisor of the second phase of the rescue operation, said that the operation’s second phase had started on Monday night and it would continue till the entire operation is over.
“We’re using cranes and cutting huge slabs from the top and lifting those to ensure that no secondary collapse occurs in the building, as that could be fatal,” he added. \Brig Gen He observed that the operation’s second phase would take more time.
Relatives of the missing people burst into tears when the manual rescue operation in the collapsed building came to a halt. Although heavy equipment were pressed into service for 20 hours now, about 1,000 people are still missing.
The High Court has ordered the authorities concerned to confiscate all the movable and immovable properties of the owners of Rana Plaza and the five readymade garments.
The owners are Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed building, Baslus Samad Adnan, owner of New Web Bottoms and Mahmudur Rahman Tapos, owner of New Web Style, M Aminul Islam, owner of Phantom Apparels of Rana Plaza, and Md Anisur Rahman, owner of Ether Textile Limited.
Relatives of the missing people on Monday demonstrated at the site for the lack of information about their loved ones. They also chanted slogans against the Bangladesh Army which has been leading the rescue operation since the eight-storey commercial block was reduced to rubble on April 24.
Police charged batons to disperse the demonstrators even as the rescue operation was on.
Armed with sticks, the demonstrators were seen chanting slogans since morning, demanding death penalty for Sohel Rana. Rana is allegedly a leader of Jubo League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League.
The demonstrators went on a rampage, damaging vehicles on the highway. Hundreds of vehicles near the Savar Bus Stand were damaged. This disrupted the traffic on the busy Dhaka-Aricha Highway.
Defending the police crackdown, assistant Superintendent of Dhaka Police, Moshiuddoula Reza, said, “The demonstrators were not garments workers. We moved in as they were trying to hamper rescue efforts.”
Communications minister Obaidul Quader said the trial of those responsible for the disaster would have to be completed quickly, if necessary through the Speedy Trial Tribunal. “It’s another type of crimes against humanity. Persons responsible will have to be tried as soon as possible. If necessary, they’ll have to be tried under the speedy trial tribunal,” he told reporters while visiting the disaster site in Savar.
Quader said the government is determined to ensure exemplary punishment to those responsible for the disaster. “The key person behind the disaster has already been arrested. We won’t consider his party affiliation. We’ll treat him as a criminal.”
-With The Independent input