Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rescue goes at slow pace

A few hundred people wait at Adhar Chandra High School playground in Savar for the bodies of their loved ones who have been missing since the Rana Plaza came crashing down on April 24. Photo: Anisur Rahman

A few hundred people wait at Adhar Chandra High School playground in Savar for the bodies of their loved ones who have been missing since the Rana Plaza came crashing down on April 24. Photo: Anisur Rahman

Eleven days into the country’s deadliest building collapse in Savar, the official rescuers are clueless about how many bodies are still locked in the mammoth concrete wreckage and how long it may take to remove the piles.
Just one-fifth of the rubble has been removed over the past one week, officials say. Some ground workers estimate it would take at least two more weeks to clear the debris of nine-storey Rana Plaza.
There is an estimated 9,000 tonnes of wreckage, including machines, 2,000 tonnes of which have so far been removed, said Major Moazzem of army engineers’ corps.
Bodies are still found in the building’s rear staircase, he said. It seems there are still quite a number of bodies in the rubble.
It is difficult to say how long it may take to complete the task, as no reliable information on the number of bodies is available, said Moazzem.
However, Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said it was quite possible for the army, district administration and police to know how many workers were in the Rana Plaza factories when the building collapsed on April 24.
He also believes the operation should have been faster.
Yesterday, with 18 more decomposed bodies hauled up, the total number bodies recovered reached 558 so far and 459 of them were handed over, according to district administration control room, while 2,989 were rescued alive.
While the body search continues, the relatives of unnumbered missing people wait at nearby Adhar Chandra High School ground.
Some of them, extremely exhausted, were found holding photographs of the missing. Some, faintly weeping, were  wandering around the school ground in search of corpses of daughters, sons, brothers and sisters.
Sufia Begum, who lost trace of her daughter Ruma Akhtar, son Amjad Hossain and son-in-law Monir Hossain, all of whom worked as garment workers at Rana Plaza, has been waiting at the school ground for past eleven days.
Dhaka district administration, a week after the tragedy, has begun preparing a fresh list of missing persons, said Anisur Rahman, a deputy secretary at Dhaka deputy commissioner’s office.
He added the administration registered 184 complaints about missing persons in three days until yesterday.
“Dhaka district police authorities earlier recorded 1,200 such complaints but the list was later abandoned considering it erroneous with duplicate entries.”