Fire Service and Civil Defence Director Mohammad Zahidul Islam said this on Thursday afternoon after over 33 hours since the rescue drive began as the commercial building came crushing down with heaps of concrete and steel on Wednesday.
He said at least 24 more people were rescued alive from the site in the noon.
He, however, could not give the number of people still trapped in the debris of the nine-storied building, but said 231 bodies had been recovered.
Around same time, Fire Brigade and Civil Defence’s Director General Ali Ahmed Khan said the building near the Savar Bus Stand had more than 3,000 people working in five readymade garment factories when the incident happened.
He said rescuers had so far pulled more than 2,000 people alive out of the debris of the building.
The nine-storey building has currently only three stories in standing position. Apart from the Army, Fire Service, Civil Defence and BGB personnel are also engaged in the rescue work. Local people of Savar remained active from the very beginning in pulling out corpses and people from the concrete pileup.
Zahidul Islam said they were now searching the lower floors of the buildings.
“We are still finding people alive. We will continue our search for 72 hours (from the time of the building collapse),” he said.
He said heavy equipment would be used to remove the debris of the building after that.
General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardi of the 9th Infantry Division, which heads the rescue operation for the second day, said all measures were being taken to rescue those still stuck inside the building. A total of 1,100 trained army personnel were taking part in the salvage efforts, he added.
Thousands of people continue to throng the site since the building collapsed and are complaining of slow pace of rescue efforts.
ISPR Director Shahinur Islam said, “Our prime concern is to pull out people alive from the site. We will recover them all.”
Responding to the complaint of the slow pace of work, he said, “The Army does have the expertise to remove slabs from the building using cranes. But we are not doing that to save those trapped inside.”
Like Wednesday, the rescuers were drilling concrete slabs to rescue more people on Thursday. Water and food were being supplied through the holes.
The rescuers have been talking of continuing their efforts until each one of those trapped is rescued.
A total of 231 bodies have so far been handed over to the relatives at Savar’s Adhar Chandra High School.