A daunting task
It has been mainly the firefighters and locals who have been conducting the rescue operation at Rana Plaza site in Savar since Wednesday, the day the nine-storey building collapsed.
During spot visits, it was seen that personnel of army, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were mostly handling the crowd and making way for their vehicles and other vehicles carrying food and medicine to and out of the spot.
The locals and firefighters using shovels, handsaw, hammers and other handy tools have been cutting the fallen walls, grills and roofs to get the victims out of the debris.
However, after recovery of any victim, personnel of other agencies are seen active to take the victim to hospital.
Against such backdrop, families of the victims and locals yesterday morning staged an angry demonstration in front of the collapsed building alleging that the government machineries were not putting sincere efforts in the rescue; rather the army, Rab, BGB and police were playing the role of onlookers.
Law enforcers had immediately brought the situation under control by firing rubber bullets, said locals.
Contacted Rab's Legal Wing Director Wing Commander Habibur Rahman said, "Firefighters are trained for such rescue operation. The Rab, army and other agencies are mainly trying to maintain law and order on the spot."
Contradicting with this, Director of Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) Shahinur Islam yesterday at a press briefing in Savar claimed that the rescue operation was being conducted by the army in cooperation with other agencies.
He said the army team deployed there were equipped with light and heavy machinery, but they were conducting the rescue with discretion and caution to avoid further unnecessary casualty.
But according to locals, the rescue could have been much faster and could saved more lives had the army team been active with their equipment.
During spot visits, it was noticed that the rescue operation was being carried out in an uncoordinated manner with many locals cutting walls and searching for victims.
For instance, no medical team was seen present on the spot when victim Rikta Begum, who got trapped on the third floor, was rescued from debris by severing her hand with a saw yesterday around 5:00pm.
Lying on a bed at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar she gave the horrific account of how her right hand had to be amputated without any anaesthesia.