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Dhaka Tribune

Authorities, families face difficulty in identifying victims

Update : 10 May 2013, 04:16 AM

With the death toll in the Rana Plaza tragedy climbing over the past days, the number of unidentified bodies has mounted as those trapped in the rubble havedecomposed beyond identification.

Sixteen days into the incident, district administration officials said that the job of handing over the bodies is becoming increasingly difficult, as it needed to be confirmed that the bodies were going to the right families. Now, ID cards and mobile phones have become tools for identification.

Some bodies are too decomposed to even determine sex and these can only be identified byDNA tests. As a result many families, who were waiting at Adhar Chandra High School’s field,had to leave without their relatives’ body.

According to district administration officials, 98 bodies were kept at the field for identification while around 100 bodies were heldat Dhaka Medical College and Mitford Hospital’s morgue.

“The bodies coming to the field are difficult to recognise. Even relatives are getting confused identifying their loved ones,” said Akhtaruzzaman Bhuiyan Shahin, a Rover Scout leader whose team was assisting the administration in the identification procedure.

Kamrul Hassan, UNO of Savar upazila said: “On some occasions, relatives claim bodies from the victim’s clothes, physical shape or ornaments. But the administration cannot handover bodies depending on these, as they might be common.”

Talking to the Dhaka tribune a number of relatives also expressed the same view.

“I am confused. Everything (salwar and kameez) except the scarf on one of the bodies’ matched my wife’s. Maybe the rescuers wrapped her with another person’s scarf while pulling her out of the rubble,” said Md Fazlur Miah, husband of Parvin Begum, who worked on the third floor of the collapsed Rana Plaza.

A civil rescuer, Zia Uddin, said that they are now finding a huge number of bones and flesh.

“We gather the scattered body parts and try to give them shape. In some cases we just collect them from different places and put them in body-bags and send it to Adhar Chandra field,” he said.

Like previous days, yesterday many people with photographs and ID cards of missing workers were still waiting at the Adhar Chandra High School playground for the remains.

So far the district administration has handed over 671 bodies to the families, from the 957 total dead.         

Rana Plaza, which housed several garment factories, collapsed after owners forced several thousand workers to work there even after cracks appeared on some pillars and floors the day before.

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