31 people rescued 3 days after collapse

Source:  1Heavy machinery and equipment have not been used yet as the rescuers are hopeful of finding more survivors.

The death toll reached 355 by Saturday night, and almost a thousand people were still missing, officials said at the temporary information centre set up on the Adhar Chandra High School premises.

Rescue efforts continued amidst rain at noon. Again, around 9:35pm, it halted for a while and then resumed as a wave of seasonal storm and rain lashed the area.

“Rain can’t stop our work,” Fire Service Director Major Mohammad Mahbub, one of the rescuers, had told bdnews24.com at noon.

However, those taking part in the rescue said they would need tarpaulin and other relevant materials to carry on their work in case it rained heavily again.

Relatives of the deceased also claimed that they faced lots of trouble while receiving bodies at the school grounds as there was not sufficient tarpaulin to protect the bodies from the rain.

The Meteorological Department has predicted rain and thundershowers accompanied by gusty or squally winds in Dhaka region in the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile, with the arrest of a third garment factory owner on Saturday night, the number of the RMG unit owners in police custody has reached three, apart from two engineers of the Savar municipality arrested in the morning in connection with the tragedy. The law enforcers were given remand to question four of them earlier in the day.

However, owner of the ill-fated building Sohel Rana, a leader of Awami League’s youth front Juba League, continues to evade arrest.

The main opposition BNP claimed the government helped him escape, but State Minister for Home Shamsul Hoque Tuku dismissed the charge saying the law enforcers were trying to arrest him.

Rana Plaza, a nine-storey building located near Savar’s Bus Stand area, collapsed on Wednesday morning. Locals had immediately initiated search for victims and were soon joined by the Fire Service and Civil Defence and Bangladesh Army personnel. The majority of the victims are readymade garment workers, who were forced into work by the factory owners that day despite a safety hazard alert sounded by the Industrial Police the previous day.

The Fire Service, Army, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), police and RAB personnel, along with the regular volunteers, are jointly conducting the rescue operation at the building collapse site.

An information centre has been set up in front of the site to provide latest update on the search operation.

The other centre is at the Adhar Chandra High School, adjacent to the Enam Medical College Hospital, where most of the injured are receiving treatment since Wednesday.

At least 348 dead bodies were identified and handed over to relatives until Saturday night.

The dead are being kept in the school grounds, while those injured being rushed to various hospitals.

Sub-Inspector Saiful Islam, who was on duty at the Adhar Chandra High School centre on Saturday night, said 1,050 people were still missing.

Unidentified bodies are being sent to the morgues of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Sir Salimullah Medical College, also known as Mitford Hospital. Currently, 37 bodies are kept at DMCH and six at Mitford for identification.

The nine-storied building came crushing down with approximately 3,000 people inside it.

Meanwhile, the rescuers have decided not to call off their mission as planned before, as they are hopeful of finding more survivors trapped under the debris.

The rescuers were likely to use heavy equipment for removal of slabs and heavy steel from the spot since Saturday morning. But their plan changed as they found some survivors.

The Bangladesh Army, which is leading the rescue operation, has declared that the operation would continue until the last alive person was rescued.

However, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy of the 9th Infantry Division, which is leading the rescue operation, on Saturday afternoon told reporters, “We are not going for any massive scale salvage attempt.”

On Friday, rescuers managed to dig out 118 victims from the debris of the building which was erected over 56 decimals of land.

Rescue workers dug several tunnels to pull out the possible survivors trapped under the debris of the building using drilling machines as use of heavy machines could trigger further collapse.

However, heavy equipment have been brought to the site. A huge hydraulic crane reached the spot at around 2pm Saturday.

“Each life matters to us. We are carefully conducting the operation to rescue everyone trapped in the wreckage alive,” ISPR Director Shahinur Islam told reporters in the afternoon.

He said they have put seven special cameras through holes to scan those parts of the debris which are yet to be explored. “We have dug 25 such holes,” he added.

Another rescuer, Brigadier General Sayeed Masud said they could still see signs of life inside the wreckage.

He said heavy equipment would be used only after consulting the relatives and common people engaged in the rescue operation.

Maj Gen Suhrawardy said the rescue drive was very risky. “The rescuers are putting their lives to risk,” he said.

He also rejected the possibility of taking foreign assistance in the rescue operation. “We are capable enough. We don’t need foreign assistance.

Relatives of the missing were still assembled at the site and going running to find their loved ones.

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