Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DEATH TOLL 388

Many still missing in Savar

Relatives see no hope of getting back their dear ones alive; 4 more bodies found

With unnumbered decomposed bodies remaining stuck in concrete slabs of the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar, rescuers yesterday recovered four more bodies while removing the building debris.
With this, the number of bodies recovered rose to 388 on the seventh day of the rescue operation. No person was rescued alive in the last two days as the figure of survivors remained unchanged at 2,437, said ISPR and other sources.
Also yesterday, rescuers used two trained dogs to trace the dead.
Relatives of those still missing are losing patience. Neither the police nor the military could say the figure of the missing persons. Many estimated the number would be several hundred.
“We are not going for massive demolition since there are bodies at different places of the building. We are trying to recover the bodies without any deformation,” Lt Col Moin Uddin of Third Engineering Battalion (Savar Cantonment) told The Daily Star.
It could take another 12-15 days to remove the debris if a concerted effort is made. However, it might not be possible as the rescuers become careful whenever a body is found, he mentioned.
Debris is being transported in 20 trucks and dumped in a place near Savar Police Station.
An estimated 300-350 tonnes of concrete have been removed since heavy machines were used in the second phase of the rescue operation Sunday night. The army estimates the total concrete at around 9,000 tonnes.
Many waiting relatives of the missing garment workers intercepted the trucks on their way to the dumping site, suspecting those were carrying and hiding bodies.
However, the army officials involved in the operation ruled it out.
“It would be very painful if people think this way. We are rescuing people risking our lives and this kind of thinking will hurt our mental strength,” Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy of the 9th Infantry Division told journalists at a briefing.
He said they were putting in their best efforts to rescue the bodies unhurt.
About the number of missing persons, he said it would be possible to figure out the number once all the bodies are recovered and DNA tests are carried out on them.
Meanwhile, several hundred anxious people crowded Rana Plaza, Adharchandra High School and different hospitals in Savar and Dhaka to locate their missing relatives.
Among them was Razia, who has been looking for her daughter-in-law Parveen since the nine-storey building caved in on April 24.
Parveen worked on the second floor of the high rise. Her husband Zahid and other relatives were looking for her body at different hospitals, but in vain.
Kohinur, with a photograph of her missing husband in her hand, said: “My husband was a sewing operator on the sixth floor. I showed the photo and gave his name everywhere, but none could say anything.”
Yesterday, around 100 relatives of the missing victims staged a demonstration before the Jatiya Press Club, demanding the authorities hand them over the bodies of their relatives.
They also demanded the hanging of Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, a branch of Brac Bank and a shopping complex.
In another incident, several thousand workers and relatives of the building collapse victims put up barricades at several points on the Dhaka-Aricha highway from 8:30am to noon, demanding the death penalty for Rana and arrest of his patron lawmaker Murad Jong.
Witnesses said as the agitators vandalised several vehicles, police charged batons and fired rubber bullets to disperse them.
NINE MORE BODIES IDENTIFIED
Relatives yesterday identified nine more bodies of the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse at the morgues of Dhaka Medical College (DMC) and Sir Salimullah Medical College (SSMC).
Following identification, they received the bodies from the college authorities for burial.
The decomposed bodies were identified by the clothes, accessories and size and shape of the teeth of the victims, said morgue sources.
Mohammad Belal identified the body of his wife Dulari Begum, aged 27. He said he had bought the dress his wife was wearing when the disaster struck. He along with his relatives took the body to their village home in Naogaon for burial.
DMC sources said 46 decomposed bodies had been sent to the college till date. Of them, 21 still remained unidentified.
Sources at SSMC said they had received 23 bodies so far. Of them, six had been identified by the victims’ relatives and handed over to them for burial.