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Dhaka Tribune

Deadly collapse: rescue ongoing

Update : 24 Apr 2013, 06:05 PM

At least 168 people were killed and over 1,000 injured as an eight-storey building collapsed near Savar bus stand Wednesday morning. Local police officers said some 500 people are trapped under the rubble.

Some 40 people were rescued from Wednesday night to Thursday morning while 124 bodies were handed over to families, additional police super of Dhaka district, Faruk Hossain, told Dhaka Tribune.

Army and fire service personnel are conducting rescue operations. The bodies are kept at Savar Adharchandra High School in the area.

The building housed a shopping mall, several garment factories and a branch office of Brac Bank.

Locals complained that the owner of the building kept it open even after engineers had ordered the building evacuated yesterday (Tuesday) after cracks developed in the building.

Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, told reporters that so far bodies of 114 people and around 400 people were recovered from the rubble. Rescuers fear that more than 1500 people, both dead and alive, are still stuck inside.

The commercial building called Rana Plaza had developed cracks at about 9am yesterday. The building housed five garment factories, where an estimated 3,122 workers were employed, according to BGMEA.

Sohel Rana, owner of the building, 'advised' the reporters Tuesday not to pay heed to the matter.

"This is a very small issue. You shouldn't pay much heed on the matter. Let us handle it." he replied when he was asked to comment on the crack.

Mostly women among the dead

The Savar building collapse in the morning has claimed the lives of mostly women and garment workers.

Visiting the hospitals and clinics around the area, our reporter estimates that at least two-thirds of the dead are women.

Three of deceased have been identified so far. They are-- Abu Sayed, general manager of a garments factory, and Sabirunnesa and Fouzia Begum, garments workers.

Government announces compensation

Dhaka district administration has announced an initial compensation of Tk20,000 for each victim.

Mohammad Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner (general) of Dhaka DC office, confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.

Meanwhile a control room has been opened up at the DC office to provide information about the missing and the injured. The control room telephone number is 02-7114756.

A survivor’s account: Engineer’s warning was ignored

Our reporter Ashif Islam Shaon talked to Mehedi Hasan Babu, 22, a survivor who worked on the third floor of the collapsed building.

Babu alleged that the collapse was a result of the owners not following the engineer’s warning.

He said they first learned about the crack in the building at around 10am on Tuesday. They were immediately cleared out of there and were told to come back after lunch. When they came back, they found the entrance of the building locked, Babu said.

“When we called the supervisor of our factory today (Wednesday), he told us to come to the office. The production manager told us that the engineer assured him that the building was out of risk and work could be continued,” Babu said.

“We heard a loud noise at around 9am. When we realised that the building was falling down, we tried to move somewhere safe inside the building. But when the building collapsed, we were trapped,” the survivor said.

When they were eventually rescued, some of them were badly injured. These survivors, including Babu, were rushed to a nearby diagnostic centre.

When contacted, Abdur Razzak, engineer of the building, claimed he had told the building authorities not to let anyone enter it before further examination by experts.

Mourning day today

Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan confirmed that the nation will observe a day of mourning Thursday.

He also told reporters that the national flag will be lowered to half-mast but all institutions including public and private offices will remain open.

BGMEA response

While talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA) president MdAtiqul Islam said the garment factory owners were advised to shut down operations for the sake of the security of workers on the previous day.

“We (BGMEA delegation) came here (Savar) yesterday to ask the building and garment factory owners to keep the building shut till expert team from Buet examined it. We heard the workers were called individually in the morning and asked to join work. We have already constituted a probe body, and I assure you we’ll dig deep.”

PM, BNP chairperson, president shocked

Just sworn-in President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia expressed deep shock at the loss of lives and property in the tragic incident at Savar today,

The prime minister asked the Bangladesh Army and the local administration for an uninterrupted rescue operation and engage full strength to rescue the persons trapped inside, BSS reported.

She also asked the authorities concerned for taking necessary measures for proper treatment of the injured persons.

Sheikh Hasina conveyed profound sympathy to the members of the bereaved families and prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls.

Meanwhile, main opposition BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has expressed deep shock at the building collapse in Savar Wednesday morning.

She called upon the government to take immediate steps to speed up the rescue drive and compensate the victims in the quickest possible time.

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