Vol. 5 Num 622 Mon. February 27, 2006  
Front Page

Tejgaon Building Collapse
Another body dragged out, search on

One more dead body and two living workers were pulled out yesterday from the debris of the multi-storey building at Tejgaon that collapsed on Saturday as rescuers removed around one-fifth rubble 36 hours into the incident.

The rescuers found the body of Nabiullah around 6:00am yesterday while clearing the rubble at the west corner of the collapsed structure. Details about the victim could not be known.

Meanwhile, one Abdul Barek, a mason rescued on Saturday, succumbed to his injuries at his Badda residence yesterday, raising the death toll to 18 until yesterday evening.

Rescuers led by the army removed parts of debris from all sides of the building's top floor until last evening. They dug three holes through the concrete slabs of the next three floors but did not find anyone alive or dead in and around the holes.

"We shouted through the holes and searched with searchlights to see if anyone was alive, but no one responded to our call or was found," Major Zahir Uddin Mohammad Babar, director (operation and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told The Daily Star.

The rescuers are using excavators only after being sure that no victim is around, he said, adding they are also pumping fresh air into the rubble so that survivors, if any, do not die of suffocation or lack of oxygen.

Leader of the rescue operation Brigadier General Nizam Ahmed told The Daily Star, " Possibly there are very few people inside the rubble as we did not find anybody searching through the holes."

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) used its dog squad to search for victims in the debris.

An army officer preferring anonymity said, "We hope that it would take four more days to complete the rescue operation."

Yesterday's survivors
Shakil, a mason, pulled himself out of the rubble around 10:00am while Asaduzzaman Sumon, an electrician from Shantinagar of Pabna, came out of the debris around 2:30pm.

With the two, 47 people were so far rescued alive.

Sumon was taken to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) while Shakil left for his house from the spot. Sixteen of the injured were undergoing treatment at DMCH, one of them in critical state.

Doctors said they amputated the left leg of critically wounded labourer Tofazzel Hossain, 50, yesterday.

Hunt for the responsible
Police on Saturday night arrested Rezaul Karim Faruq, manager (finance) of Phoenix Fabrics that was once housed in the collapsed building. They also conducted several drives until yesterday afternoon in different parts of the city in search of the building's owner Deen Mohammad, but could not arrest him.

Sub-Inspector (SI) Khalilur Rahman of Tejgaon Police Station had filed a case accusing eight people, including Deen Mohammad, under sections 304(A)--negligence leading to murder, 427--mischief, and 109--abetment of the penal code.

The other accused are Shoyebur Rahman, MA Mazid, Dr Jahangir Alam, SA Hasan, Delwar Hossain, Sirajul Islam and Rezaul Karim Faruq.

Sufferings in the neighbourhood
Around 100 families living around the site of collapse are facing serious trouble as supply of water and electricity to their houses remained snapped as of yesterday evening.

They also had to remain almost entirely confined in their houses as the law enforcers have sealed off all the roads in the area.

City dwellers also suffered severe traffic congestion as the Tongi Diversion Road was closed for vehicular movement yesterday.

Political leaders visit the site
Leaders of the 14-party opposition combine led by Awami League (AL) General Secretary Abdul Jalil visited the site yesterday. AL leader Tofail Ahmed and Workers' Party President Rashed Khan Menon accompanied him.

They spent some time there and observed the rescue operation.

Home Meeting
State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar yesterday said the law enforcement agencies have been asked to arrest the owners of Phoenix Fabrics.

"We have given clear instruction to the police to arrest the owner of the collapsed building," Babar told reporters after an inter-ministerial meeting at his ministry.

He admitted that the fire brigade lacks sufficient rescue equipment for facing situations like building collapses that took place in Tejgaon and Savar.

"A proposal from the disaster management ministry in this regard is awaiting approval at the planning commission," he said.

Babar also referred to the passage of the Building Construction (Amendment) Bill 2006 in parliament to ensure standard building code to avoid such accidents in future.

The executive engineer of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkho (Rajuk) yesterday told the BBC that the building collapsed as some changes were made in its structure to convert it from a garment factory into a hospital. The building owners, however, had permission for garment factory, he said.

Identity of dead victims
Apart from Abdul Barek and Nabiullah, the identity of nine deceased could be learnt until yesterday. They are ansar security guard Billal Hossain, 22, Shahjahan, 35, son of Sona Mia of Tejkunipara, Kazi Harunur Rashid Pappu, 38, son of Kazi Yusuf of Shikkakuli Lane, Kotwali, Swapan, son of Shafiqullah of East Nakhalpara, Shabela, 7, daughter of Shahin of East Nakhalpara, Amena Begum, wife of Latu Mia of East Nakhalpara, Anwara Butt of Haluaghat, Mymensingh, Shahjahan, 35, and Billal, 20.

The other victims include three men, a 4-year-old girl, and women.

Related Story

arrow Waking up in grave
Sumon wakes up in a grave-like darkness. A construction worker, he was working on the ground floor when the building caved in with a boom, throwing him into a blackout.

An excavator knocks down a standing part of the collapsed building in Tejgaon in the city yesterday to cut the risk of further fatalities. The disaster on Saturday left at least 18 people dead. PHOTO: STAR