Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- More than 86 people were killed and several hundred others injured in Savar on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka on Wednesday morning when an eight- storey building housing five garment factories collapsed.
But rescuers feared of further rise in the death toll as an unknown number of ill-fated people are believed to be trapped in the debris.
The building named Rana Plaza located at Savar Bus Stand suddenly collapsed at about 9:00am (local time), leading to the tragic incident, witnesses said.
“The building might have collapsed due to faulty construction,” said Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir.
The minister visited the spot around 1:40pm, nearly five-hour after the building collapsed.
He also said that the government would bring the culprits to justice after probing the incident.
Mr. Muhiuddin also expressed sympathy to the family members of the victims and assured them of taking all responsibilities of their treatment.
“I counted more than 86 death bodies and the number will further go up as many others trapped inside the wreckage,” Firoz Kabir, Savar Upazila (sub-district) chairman, told the correspondent from Savar over phone Thursday afternoon.
He also said that more than two dozens of workers were injured while hurriedly coming out of the building on Tuesday afternoon.
“Then, we shut down the structure to prevent any unexpected incident and instructed owner of the building not to open it unless recommendations of architects of the Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) is achieved over the building’s condition,” Mr. Firoz said. “I don’t know who has given permission to the owner of the building to open it. It should be investigated seriously.”
The latest factory disaster came eight years after the collapse of Spectrum Garments in Baipail in Savar that left 64 workers dead.
Thousands of people of the area rushed to the spot and become speechless when rescuers, specially firefighters, law enforcers and army personnel started bringing out bodies one by one.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at the site, some of them weeping survivors, some searching for family members.
Firefighters, army soldiers and members of the Boarder Guard Bangladesh (BGB) using drilling machines and cranes worked together with local volunteers in the search for other survivors from the building.
The traffic movement on Dhaka-Aricha highway has remained suspended since the morning following the building collapse.
Several workers, who escaped unhurt and were rescued later, told the reporters at Enam Medical College and Hospital in Savar that owners of their factories forced them to go back to work in the morning.
“We didn’t go inside the floor considering the risk. But floor in-charge and owner of the apparel unit threatened us of not paying our salaries if we don’t follow the order,” said Beauty Akhter, a worker of Ether Tex Ltd that housed at the building.
Doctors and nurses of the hospitals and clinics face immense difficulties in handling the growing number of patients due to the limited capacity.
“We’ve so far admitted more than 550 patients at the healthcare centre and nearly 350 were given first aid,” Professor Reza of the Enam Medical College and Hospital in Savar said, adding that many of them were shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Orthopedics Hospital in the capital due to the space shortage.
Duty officer of Savar Model Police Station said that garment workers and shop employees of the Rana Plaza were among the recovered death bodies.
BBN/SSR/AD-24Apr13-8:04 pm (BST)