[“Have the rice I cooked and feed your brother and sister too”. That was the instruction Sabina got from her mother Mita as the latter rushed to work on the morning of April 24. In the photo Sabina is seen in tears among her siblings and grandmother yesterday when her mother’s body was identified 19 days after Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar.
Photo: Sk Enamul Haq]
By Pankaj Karmakar and Shaheen Mollah
The possibility of finding more bodies under the wreckage of the ill-fated Rana Plaza narrows, as the rescue operation enters the final stage.
Brig Gen Azmal Kabir, commander of 14 independent engineer brigade at Dhaka cantonment, told The Daily Star yesterday that the rescue operation had entered the final stage with the rescuers reaching the basement.
“The front side of the basement is waterlogged. Once we remove the water, we will be able to clearly see whether any body is still trapped in the basement. I hope it will not take much time to finish the job,” he said.
Three more bodies were pulled out of the debris yesterday, the 19th day into the building collapse in Savar, raising the death toll to 1,127. Many of the bodies had decomposed beyond recognition, as those had remained trapped under the wreckage for days.
At least 234 unidentified bodies have been buried so far at Jurain graveyard in the capital. Blood samples of nearly 400 family members and DNA samples of more than 200 unidentified bodies had been collected for DNA tests at Dhaka Medical College, said Ahmad Ferdous, scientific officer at DMC.
Scores of people are still looking for the bodies of their loved ones at the site of the collapsed building.
“I want my son’s body, even if it is decomposed,” said elderly rickshaw-puller Huzur Ali. His 27-year-old son Mahedul Islam was working on the 4th floor of Rana Plaza, when the building collapsed on April 24.
More than a hundred people gathered around seven decomposed bodies kept in the corridor of Adhar Chandra High School around 2:00pm.
They were trying to figure out whether the bodies were of their dear ones. Anwara Begum was lucky enough to identify the body of her niece by a key that was tied to her waist.
Her niece Kabita Begum, 19, used to work on the 4th floor of the nine-storey building. “I first identified the body by her dress. But the district administration was not convinced.
Then I brought the padlock whose key was tied to my niece’s waist. Once they unlocked it with the key, they were confirmed that it was her body,” said Anwara.
Meanwhile, Lt Col Sharif Ahmed, commanding officer of Combined Military Hospital in Savar, told reporters that the physical condition of Reshma, who was rescued 17 days after the building collapse, had significantly improved, and she was on a regular diet.
“But she needs more rest and sleep. Our medical board will examine her tomorrow [today] morning, and say whether she will be able to talk to the media or not. She has expressed her desire to talk to you [journalists].