Getting a second chance at life | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 30, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:49 AM, March 30, 2019

Getting a second chance at life

He dodged death miraculously despite falling from the 19th floor of the Banani high-rise FR Tower while escaping Thursday's devastating fire that claimed at least 25 lives and left scores injured.

Soon after the fire broke out, Rezwan Ahmed, 33, an official of Quasem Industries Ltd on the 21st floor, took shelter at a corner there with some colleagues.

As the fire was spreading rapidly below -- generating smoke and heat -- Rezwan's colleagues decided to go to the rooftop through the stairs.

One by one they left. Rezwan somehow failed to follow. By that time, the staircase was getting engulfed by smoke. So, Rezwan took an alternative way and escaped the floor through an open window.

However, he could only climb down a couple of floors, using cables and grabbing parts of outdoor air conditioners. Due to excessive heat, he got stuck on the 19th floor.

Desperate, Rezwan tried to hold on to a part of an AC, but as it was extremely hot. “My hands were burning,” Rezwan told this newspaper at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday.

He said he could not hold on to the AC's metal part and subsequently fell from there. Luckily, there were more overhead utility cables above ground, and Rezwan hit those before falling to the ground, which lessened the impact as he hit the concrete.

He was rescued immediately and taken to nearby Kurmitola General Hospital for treatment. He was later shifted to DMCH.

Partha Sankar Paul, resident medical officer of DMCH's burn unit, said Rezwan's legs and left hand were fractured. He also sustained seven to eight percent burn injuries.

His brother Irfan Hossain at the hospital said, “Its sheer luck that he is still with us.” He said their family is from Sirajdikhan of Munshiganj. “My brother is communicating with us normally.”

Like Rezwan, another survivor of the devastating fire is Rezaur Rahman, 48, chief executive officer of a private company on the 11th floor.

Rezaur said he climbed down to the ninth floor through an open part of the building.

For some time, Rezaur and some other survivors, who were stuck on the floor, tried to get help from fire fighters. “It was quite difficult for them to reach us because of excessive heat and smoke,” he said. Rezaur is being treated at DMCH.

“I looked for other options, and luckily could find a passage to the adjoining building using cables and ACs,” he told The Daily Star.

Finally, he was able to escape. “It's like getting a second chance at life,” said Rezaur.

At least 23 injured persons were found taking treatment at different hospitals yesterday.

Six of them were admitted to DMCH, two at Kurmitola General Hospital and 15 at United Hospital, according to sources at the hospitals.

United Hospital sources said their patients were out of danger.

Brig Gen Quazi Rashid-Un-Nabi, director of Kurmitola General Hospital, said 41 persons received treatment at the hospital. Two of them were still admitted last evening. Their condition is stable, he said.

Meanwhile, visiting the victims at the hospital, Jatiya Party lawmaker GM Quader said the Banani fire and casualties could have been averted if authorities concerned had performed their duties earlier.

The blaze exposed that government departments, which were supposed to monitor whether such high-rises maintained building codes, did not do their jobs properly, he told reporters on the hospital premises.

Those officials should be held accountable for such negligence, Quader added.

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