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     Volume 5 Issue 92 | April 28, 2006 |

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News Notes

Yet Another Garment Factory Accident!
A stampede caused by an electrical spark inside a garment factory in Jatrabari area of the capital last week left about 50 people injured as panicked people tried to escape hurriedly suspecting a fire. The spark occurred at 3:30pm on the seventh floor of eight-storied Sufia Plaza, which houses the garment factory, Mega Tex Limited. The factory is situated on the fifth, sixth and the seventh floor. The sound of an explosion was heard followed by someone screaming 'fire'. This caused the workers to panic and rush to the three staircases in the building. By this time, other workers on different levels also rushed to the stairs. Workers of Sweater Concern, a sweater factory, situated on the second to fourth floors, also rushed to the stairs causing a stampede. Mega Tex workers were injured during the stampede as they failed to come down due to crowding by workers of the sweater factory. The incident reflects how the factories have failed to provide their workers with adequate safety measures, even in terms of training them on how to remain calm in such a situation. Whether the workers die burning in a fire or because their co-workers have trampled them while trying to escape, the main issue is still unattended: the employers are too callous to take the workers safety seriously.

When Hope turns to Nightmare
WHAT could be more shattering than to be given hope of seeing again or seeing clearly again, only for such dreams to be taken away? For thirteen cataract patients in Naogaon, a much-awaited operation that would restore their eyesight, ended in a nightmare. They had undergone cataract operations at an eye camp arranged by the Bangladesh National Society for the Blind (BNSB) that provides free eye treatment for blind patients who are poor.
The tragedy occurred right after the operations when the patients were given an application of a solution as a routine post-operative treatment. Nine other patients were given the same solution but of another brand. According to the doctor who performed the operation, the brand given to the unfortunate thirteen was allegedly bacteria-infected that may have taken away their vision for good. This was detected when the group of thirteen, who had been complaining of complications, were sent to the BNSB headquarters for examination. According to BNSB, the solutions were sent to a diagnostic lab in Sirajganj for testing three days after the incident. Lab tests showed that the medicine was bacteria- contaminated.
A sales manager of the Opso-Saline, the offending brand,claimed that the company, after receiving the allegation, also tested their medicine (obviously not the same batch) and did not find anything wrong. He said that since the medicine had been tested, three days of opening the container, it was not unlikely that they had become contaminated with bacteria.
The fact that patients, who had been given a different brand, did not face the same consequences, however, does make one wonder about the quality of the other brand.

Sadequee's extradition
EHSANUL Islam Sadequee, 19, is a Bangladeshi born US citizen who was picked up by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 17. A special chartered plane secretly took Sadequee back to the USA last Thursday, three days into his capture in Dhaka. He faces a charge of planning terrorist attack in the USA. He is currently in FBI custody in the USA. An FBI special agent was supposed to officially press charges against him in the court for his alleged involvement with Islamist militancy. Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, Consul General of Bangladesh in New York confirmed that the US does not have any extradition treaty with Bangladesh. Sadequee's activities were suspicious; so he was sent back to the USA, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar told reporters, emerging out of a meeting with the new US ambassador to Bangladesh, Patricia A Butenis. "No extradition treaty is needed for that," he said, adding, "We have deported many people. Every year we extradite five to seven people to the USA."
A US attorney's office said that there had been a warrant issued through Interpol to arrest Sadequee and based on this warrant, he was extradited. The Bangladesh government and the police authorities had been keeping mum on how Sadequee ended up in FBI custody. Concerned Police sources, till now, had been saying that he was abducted and the case was under investigation. Asked about his whereabouts, top police officials bypassed the question. Sadequee's father, Sarder Md Sharif, in Dhaka said the allegations against his son involving with militancy are totally baseless. According to an affidavit made public last Friday, the incident started unfolding when another US citizen of Pakistani origin, Syed Haris Ahmed, and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee travelled to Canada to meet with Islamic extremists to discuss 'strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike'. Sadequee was interviewed at John F Kennedy International Airport, as he was about to leave for Bangladesh and upon searching his suitcase, agents found a CD-ROM containing encrypted files that FBI has been unable to decode and a map of the Washington area, hidden in the lining of the suitcase.

Tragic end of a Social Activist
PROMINENT social activist and the country director of Action Aid Bangladesh, Nasreen Pervin Huq, met a tragic end when she was waiting for her car at the car park of her residence in Dhanmondi with her 15-month-old daughter on April 26. Her daughter, miraculously, did not receive any injuries.
Her driver lost control of the vehicle and crushed her against a wall. She was rushed to Bangladesh Orthopaedic Hospital and later shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka where she slipped into a coma. She died at 8:00 pm there.
She had received severe injuries to her head, legs and hands. The doctors gave her more than 20 bags of blood as they could not stop the bleeding. CMH sources said she also had a cardiac arrest while she was at the Orthopaedic Hospital.
The driver became shell-shocked following the accident and was undergoing psychological treatment.
Nasreen did her masters degree in nutritional sciences from the University of California at Berkeley. She was wife of Nurul Islam Bhuiyan Chotan, managing editor of Dainik Jay Jay Din.

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