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Dhaka Tribune

The heroism of Savar

Update : 26 Apr 2013, 08:30 AM

Amidst scenes of utter chaos and destruction some residents of Savar demonstrated incredible bravery and heroism.

In photos taken of the rescue effort all afternoon, there appear some individuals in no uniform, bearings stretcher after stretcher, clambering down the piles of precarious rubble towards waiting ambulances.

The fortitude and heroism of these men and women, who with little or no protective clothing or equipment, clambered into and on top of what remained of the structure that had become coated in fine dust, is a rare ray of light in a day of almost unimaginable national tragedy.

An infantry man complained to the Dhaka Tribune about the severe lack of equipment as did bystanders near the front of the building yesterday afternoon, exasperatedly calling for oxygen for those trapped inside, holding up improvised placards and berating the televised media. “You are showing movies while people are dying inside,” they shouted in frustration.

Under an air of panic thousands gathered with young men inexplicably running around with sticks amongst almost every branch of the security services from Rab to the navy.

Some complained that the police and security services were not assisting in the rescuing: “It’s always like this, they just leave it to the local people,” one volunteer told the Dhaka Tribune.

Local volunteers were seen collapsing with exhaustion by the side of the building, where body after body emerged from the tangled mass of concrete and metal entombing the dozens of young men and women who had been cajoled to work that day, despite the owner, Muhammad Sohel Rana knowing that there were problems with the building that he had extended illegally.

In dark conditions clouded with dust, volunteers worked alongside uniformed firemen as fears of another collapse were put aside for the most part. At around 4 pm thousands of onlookers started fleeing the side of the building as panic spread that the giant complex would again collapse on its side.

Hundreds helped carrying water and biscuits in human chains into the debris for those working tirelessly to free survivors and to those trapped in the hellish, tangled wreckage of bricks, mortar and metal.

As the death count rises and rises, it is becoming evident that this is probably the worst industrial disaster in South Asia since Bhopal in 1984.

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