Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rescuer could not take it

A man, injured in the April 24 Rana Plaza collapse, walks on crutches past a queue of his fellow workers at Savar cantonment yesterday. The workers, all from the garment factories housed at Rana plaza, came here to receive wages and benefits from Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Photo: Anisur Rahman

A man, injured in the April 24 Rana Plaza collapse, walks on crutches past a queue of his fellow workers at Savar cantonment yesterday. The workers, all from the garment factories housed at Rana plaza, came here to receive wages and benefits from Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Photo: Anisur Rahman

He had been tormented by sights of helpless people crying for help underneath the wreckage of Rana Plaza. Then he started to have nightmares and hallucinations.
As his condition got worse, he was taken to hospital.
And finally, 26-year-old Omar Faruq, the owner of Faruq Engineering Workshop, who volunteered for the rescue operation in Savar, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday.
He had been missing from his ward at the DMCH since Sunday afternoon, three days into his admission to the hospital with high fever and symptoms of mental illness.
Hospital staff found his body on a trolley in a corner near his ward on the hospital’s second floor around 9:00am.
Police said the marks around Faruq’s throat indicated that he took his own life failing to bear the trauma.
However, doctors said they would have to perform an autopsy on him to confirm whether he committed suicide.
“The cries of trapped people started to haunt him after he joined the rescue work,” Faruq’s wife Asha Akhter Irin told The Daily Star.
Faruq, who ran a workshop near Rana Plaza, ventured into the wreckage of the building to pull out trapped people a day after it collapsed on April 24.
“When he returned home the third day after he joined the rescue work, he looked very upset. He repeatedly told me how hard it was for him to leave behind trapped people crying for help,” said Irin, who married Faruq only four months ago.
Faruq’s sister Ayesha Begum said the sight of so many people lying dead under the debris shocked him so much that he started to have nightmares of trapped people screaming for help.
With high fever, he was taken to a local hospital, Savar Super Clinic and Diagnostic Centre, where he received treatment for three days.
Humayun Kabir, manager of the clinic, said Faruq showed symptoms of mental illness, and doctors there referred him to the DMCH on May 2 for better treatment.
“He was so traumatised that he wouldn’t even let me use the bathroom, saying I would get trapped there,” said Irin with tears welling up in her eyes.
Dr Muntasir Maruf, assistant registrar of National Institute of Mental Health, said, “Many survivors of the Savar building collapse have developed such symptoms.”
They need both counselling and medication, said Maruf.
Rescuers, survivors and witnesses might develop such symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.