Friday, 24 September, 2021

Narayanganj Factory Fire

Families search for fire victims

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 11 July, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Families search for fire victims
Firefighters try to douse the blaze on the fifth floor of a factory of Hashem Foods Ltd in Rupganj of Narayanganj on Saturday morning, two days after the devastating fire. (Inset), a minor girl shows the photograph of her missing mother in front of Dhaka Medical College morgue. – Md nasir uddin

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Family members of the fire victims gathered the spot in Narayanganj and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on Saturday in search for their dear and near ones.

Many moved to the fire spot from the hospital. Whenever they saw a firefighter or a doctor or a policeman or a morgue staff member, they showed photos of their dear and near ones to them and wanted to know if they were found.

One Shima Akhter came to the DMCH morgue, looking for her 14-year-old daughter Shanta Moni, who joined the factory only three days back.

Shima was showing her daughter’s photo to morgue men and was asking if they found the body of her daughter. She said in tears that she just wanted the body of her daughter.

“I didn’t want to let my daughter work, but the poverty forced me to do so.  My husband died when Shanta was only eight. I brought her up alone.”

Parband Barman was seen crying in front of the morgue of the hospital with holding a photo of his daughter Kampa Rani, 14. He was lamenting, saying why sent his minor daughter to work in the factory a few days ago.

He said that he just wanted to get the body of his daughter.

Like Shima and Parband, many family members and relatives of the fire victims in the factory flocked to the morgue of the hospital and the factory. An inferno ripped through a six-storey factory of Hashem Foods and Beverage Ltd, a sister concern of the Sajeeb Group, at Bhulta in Rupganj upazila of Narayanganj on Thursday, killing at least 52 workers, mostly females, and injuring more than 50 others.

Some 18 firefighter units doused the blaze on Friday night after struggling about 29 hours.

Meanwhile, the Forensic Department at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) conducted autopsy on 52 bodies.

A three-member team led by Dr Mohammad Maksud, chief of the hospital’s Forensic Department, did so. A team of the Forensic DNA Lab of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was present at that time.

Dr Maksud said that they collected samples of 49 deceased, who were charred beyond recognition, for DNA tests to identify them. They also collected samples from the missing victims’ family members. After DNA tests, they could identify the victims, he said.

The doctor suggested burying the bodies as soon as possible. He said that 15 bodies were sent to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital morgue to be kept as the DMCH morgue had no sufficient place to keep those, he said.

He added the environment might pollute badly if the bodies were not buried.

In the meantime, the Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) handed over the duty to the devastated factory building to police after it declared rescue operation to an end at 5:20pm on Saturday.

Debashis Bardhan, deputy director of the FSCD, told the Daily Sun that they conducted rescue operation till afternoon, but found no other body.

So, they declared the rescue operation to an end, he said.

He said the FSCD has formed a five-member investigation committee which would investigate to find out the reason of the fire and loss from it.

He said that the workers on the third floor died mostly as it was locked.

The government formed three probe committees to investigate the reasons behind the fire incident.

Apart from the Narayanganj district administration investigation committee, two more committees have also been formed with Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence and the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) will assist these three probe committees, said Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun, director general (DG) of RAB.

Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation gave Tk 50,000 to each injured worker undergoing treatment in hospitals.  They gave Tk 11 lakh to 22 injured workers.

Besides, family members of three identified deceased were paid Tk two lakh each.

Brig Gen Nazmul Haque, director of the DMCH, said they were providing free treatment to those who were taking treatment in the hospital.

It may take at least one month to identify the victims who were killed in the horrific fire at the Hashem Foods Limited factory in Rupganj of Narayanganj, said Mohammad Masud Rabbi Sabuj, DNA examiner at the forensic department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

The bodies of the victims, who were burnt to death in the fire, are being identified through DNA tests, he told reporters on Saturday.

He said, “So far, we have collected samples from 35 claimants against 26 bodies. Not all claimants have come yet. When they arrive, their samples will be taken in phases. At the same time, the samples which have been taken will be tested in the lab. We hope that we will be able to identify the victims within a month.”

“We are collecting reference samples. The claimants of the dead have come. We are taking blood from them. Dead body’s teeth and bones have been collected. We will test such samples.”

The DNA tester said that it would be a little challenging to analyse the samples. It may take a month. However, it will be easy and very quick to analyse the samples of the claimants of the corpses. Once the DNA profiling is completed, it will be handed over to the police or district administration concerned.

He said, “The relatives will know the identity of the deceased through Rupganj Police Station and the deputy commissioner. They are the department concerned with this incident. Families can get information through them.”

The devastating fire that swept through the six-storey building housing the juice factory of Hashem Foods Ltd, a sister concern of the Sajeeb Group, at Karnagop of Bhulta in Rupganj, Narayanganj broke out at 5:00pm on Thursday. Some 18 firefighting units doused the blaze on Friday night after about 29 hours.

The fire killed at least 52 workers, mostly women and children, and left more than 50 others injured.