Published: Monday, April 29, 2013

Waiting for a miracle

Victim families still hope to see missing dear ones alive

Relatives of victims yet to be rescued or recovered hold their photos high at Adhar Chandra High School playground in Savar so that rescuers who are bringing in bodies can identify them. Photo: Sk enamul haq

Relatives of victims yet to be rescued or recovered hold their photos high at Adhar Chandra High School playground in Savar so that rescuers who are bringing in bodies can identify them. Photo: Sk enamul haq

As a few hundred pairs of eyes, weary of the long wait, were glued to the narrow tunnel leading out of the now-flattened Rana Plaza, an announcement sounded the most pleasing intimation of all: “A man has been rescued alive.”
It worked like magic, especially when common sense rules out chances of anyone’s survival inside the rubble for five days.
Several hundred people jostled to have a peek at the man being whisked off by an ambulance, everyone praying it were the one he was waiting for.
But Sadique was just the one the rescuers could recover alive till afternoon yesterday, knowledge that filled the waiting crowd with a heavy gloom.
The list posted there said nearly 1,300 were missing, though the list still has on it some of those already recovered alive or found dead.
“We know we are hoping against hope. But isn’t there a word called miracle?” said Khashru Mia, brother-in-law of Morzina Akhter, a sewing operator who was working on the fifth floor.
Split in groups, family members waited for Morzina at Adharchandra Model High School in Savar, where the bodies were kept, and Enam Medical College Hospital, Mitford Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Though there were only two bodies kept at Adharchandra school, The Daily Star found at least 1,000 people crowding there, waiting for the bodies of their loved ones.
“How can I return home without my little girl? I can’t leave this place with the knowledge that she will be buried as an unidentified corpse. Bring her to me, alive or dead,” wailed Jahanara Begum, mother of sewing operator Lima Akhter, 22, who worked on the seventh floor.
It was Lima who ran the four-member family for three years since her father became unable to work, she added.
Frustration spread fast among the relatives yesterday as rescuers raced against time amid the growing stench of mutilated bodies, trying to locate and pull out those still believed to be alive.
“Had the rescuers quickened the operation by using modern equipment, I could have got my children alive,” said Kashem Ali, father of M Uzzal, 27.
The bodies of Uzzal and his wife were recovered yesterday.
Kashem was still standing near the debris, waiting for his younger son, Afzal Hossain, 17. He worked as an iron operator and was on the second floor when the building collapsed on Wednesday morning.
Thirty family members of Sajedul Sajib, a quality controller who worked on the fourth floor, looked for the 27-year-old and his wife, Rupa Khatun Sima, a quality supervisor working on the same floor, almost everywhere in Savar and Dhaka.
Exhausted to the core, they have now lost all hope of getting back the two alive.
“With so much time having already elapsed, we can only pray that we get back their bodies for a decent burial,” said Ansar Ali, Sajib’s uncle.