Vol. 5 Num 318 Tue. April 19, 2005  
Front Page

97 still missing
Relatives keep crowding the Savar rescue spot

Maleka Begum with bread and banana in hand has been waiting outside the security cordon of the collapsed garment factory building for her son Rubel for the last eight days. Now her blood-shot, swollen eyes do not produce any tears. She just stares blankly.

Rubel was supposed to send money to his mother on Monday, the day Maleka heard the building has crumbled. The rescuers are yet to trace the 30-year-old garment worker, who used to work on the ground floor of the nine-storey building.

"On the second day I searched the first and second floors but did not see any bodies. We may find some bodies tomorrow when our workers search the ground floor," said Md Ibrahim, a fire brigade official yesterday.

The rescuers continued their operations yesterday braving a strong stench of decomposed bodies that turned the air heavy. With no recovery of body yesterday, the death toll remained at 75 from the deadliest building collapse in Bangladesh.

According to the official list hung on a notice board at the spot, 84 people have been rescued alive so far and 97 are still missing.

Hundreds of anxious relatives and curious onlookers are waiting at the spot.

Anwar Hossain, father of garment worker Faruk Hossain, came to the spot on Saturday to find his son. He feared his son might have been buried along with five other unidentified bodies. But still he is waiting, hoping against hope.

The rescuers are now concentrating on clearing away the debris and finding only dead bodies, Md Ibrahim told The Daily Star. He said it is almost impossible for any worker to remain alive under the rubble eight days into the accident.

"There is hardly any possibility of rescuing any survivor as nobody can remain alive for such a long time without food and water in this hot weather," said one of the rescuers.

The rescue operations have reached the final stage as army officers at the spot said 80-85 percent of the rescue operations has completed. The rescuers reached the ground floor of the factory building yesterday evening.

"We are now removing the debris from the first and second floors," said one of the army officers working in the rescue team.

Rescuers from the Fire Service, Roads and Highways Department and the army were yesterday seen breaking the collapsed structure into small pieces, using vibrators and gas cutters and then removing them with cranes.

Rescue operations at the collapsed nine-storey building at Savar is now in the final stage as the rescuers reached the ground floor yesterday. PHOTO: STAR