The 20-day rescue operation in the Savar Rana Plaza collapse has formally ended on Tuesday with the Bangladesh army handing over the responsibility of the collapsed building to the civil administration.
A total of 1,127 bodies, mostly of the garment workers, have been pulled out of the high rise that housed five garment factories and collapsed on April 24 . However, despite the formal end of the rescue operation, many people were still waiting to receive dear ones who have not showed up, dead or alive.
In the biggest-ever rescue operation in country’s history, the army, along with locals and fire brigade, had rescued 2,438 people from the rubble of the nine-story building . “We promised that we would continue our rescue Mission till we found the last body. Now, there is no possibility of recovering more corpses at this point,” said Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, general officer commanding (GOC) of the army’s ninth infantry division.
According to a list prepared by the administration, at least 98 people remained missing, the general who supervised the operation, said, adding that he hoped their relatives would find the bodies once the DNA tests were completed.
The death toll of the country’s deadliest industrial disaster is 1,127, including the 12, who died while undergoing treatment at hospital. As many as 234 unclaimed bodies have been buried while another 59 unidentified bodies are still at Dhaka Medical College morgue.
The army has prepared a list of 1,000 garment workers who need to be given jobs, a list of amputated workers who need to be rehabilitated and employed, and a list of severely injured workers. “Although our rescue mission has come to an end, our work will continue till the workers’ treatment, rehabilitation and employment are ensured,” said the GOC.
Hours before the rescue operation ended, the authorities had shut down at least 100 garment factories at Ashulia, in the outskirt of Dhaka, in the face of agitation by workers demanding pay hike, benefits and workplace safety. President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association(BGNEA), Atiqul Islam said they had taken the decision to shut factories as per the Section 13 (A) of the Labour Act, meaning the workers will not get salary. The factory owners also claimed that there were ‘conspiracies’ behind the labour unrest.
Following the deadly building disaster, the government set up a panel to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers in the wake of international criticisms over the pay and perks and workplace condition in the readymade garment factories.
Many survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse had alleged that the owners of their factories housed on the top floors of the building forced them into work on the fateful Apr 24 morning against their will since they had seen the cracks in the building on the day before.