Savar death count crosses 500

Rescuers retrieved over 70 more bodies from the rubble of the ill-fated 'Rana Plaza' in Savar on Friday, taking the death toll to 525 so far.

Published : 3 May 2013, 00:17 AM
Updated : 3 May 2013, 02:53 PM

These bodies were recovered until the evening after the second phase of the rescue operation started at midnight with heavy earth-removing machines. The figure was posted at 10pm on the board of the control room set up at the Adhar Chandra High School ground.

General Officer Commanding of the 9th Infantry Division Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy had said the bodies which were recovered in the morning had been sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) morgue.

He said 2,437 people had been rescued alive from the rubble of the collapsed multi-storey building.

The recovered bodies are kept in the Adhar Chandra School ground for identification, Sub-Inspector Jalal Talukder told from the control room opened at the school to provide information.

After confirmation of their identity, the dead bodies are being handed over to their relatives, Talukder said.

Of the bodies, 431 have been handed over to the relatives until Friday evening, said SI Farid Uddin.

Hundreds holding photographs of near and dear ones were still hunting for friends and relatives possibly buried under the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building.

Several decomposed bodies have earlier been sent to the morgues of DMCH, and Salimullah Medical College and Hospital (Mitford).

Thirty-two unidentified bodies retrieved from the debris of collapsed Rana Plaza were buried on May 1 at Jurain graveyard, with the graves numbered according to their DNA samples.

Army, Fire Service and Red Crescent personnel started the second phase of the rescue operation using heavy cranes, cameras and trained dog squads since midnight.

The concrete slabs are being removed one by one and the debris is being dumped at the Bongshi River by trucks.

Maj Gen Suhrawardy told reporters on Friday he expected none to be alive under the rubble eight days after the building collapsed.

"The bodies are being recovered very carefully. Or else, it will not be possible to bring out those unhurt."

He said that the rescue operation would continue until all the bodies are recovered from the debris.

Confusion continues over the exact number of people still missing in Bangladesh's worst-ever industrial disaster.

Maj Gen Suhrawardy told reporters on May 1 that only 149 people were still missing.

But the relatives of the victims said the number of the missing people was much more. Red Crescent estimated the number of missing at around 400.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Khaleda Zia has blamed the government for lack of transparency and asked for accurate statistics of deaths and those injured and missing.
Bangladesh Army has already rubbished allegations of ‘hiding away’ bodies of those killed in the building collapse and described such claims as ‘unfortunate’.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also ruled out such allegations, saying relatives and friends of those missing and mediapersons were present at the site all the time.
Jatiya Party Chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad visited collapsed Rana Plaza site on Friday morning.
He said it would have not been possible to rescue alive some 2,500 trapped people from the collapsed building, but for the Corps of Engineers of Bangladesh Army.
"They have done a great job," Ershad said.
The huge structure came crushing down suddenly with a big bang at around 8:30am on Apr 24. Most of the victims were workers employed in the five readymade garment factories on the upper floors of the building.
The Rana Plaza also had some 300 shops, which together employed nearly 6,000 workers.
However, it is not still clear as to how many workers were at their workplaces on the fateful day. Locals say at least 3,500 people had come to work when the collapse occurred.
Many survivors had alleged that the owners of their factories forced them to go to work on Apr 24 morning against their will since they had seen the cracks in the building on the day before.
Elite anti-crime force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Mohammad Sohel Rana, owner of the building, from the border town of Benapole on Apr 28 – four days after the worst-ever industrial disaster in the country’s history as he was visibly fleeing to India to evade justice.
Rana claimed at a press conference at RAB headquarters in Dhaka that the factory owners forced him to allow work in the building saying they would face huge loss and shipments would be cancelled if the factories were closed even for a day.
Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka district police have already arrested the owners of five garment units housed at the collapsed nine-storey commercial building and two engineers of Savar Municipality responsible for buildings safety. They were remanded in police custody in different terms.