Rescuers tunneling into the remains of a Bangladesh building that collapsed on Wednesday found 50 people trapped on what used to be the third floor. The news came after two women who gave birth under the debris were rescued — along with their infants, according to a fire service official.
The news of survival came as the 72-hour deadline approached to change the rescue operation into one of recovery, even though hundreds more people are believed to be trapped amid the rubble.
Once the deadline hits on Saturday morning, officials coordinating the operation will use heavy equipment to retrieve the remaining bodies and remove the rubble of the collapsed building.
The planned use of heavy equipment has ignited protests from people crowded near the rescue site. Many of them are still searching for relatives who were inside the eight-story building when it gave way on Wednesday. They do not believe that 72 hours is enough time to wait before razing the building’s remains.
But police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, signalling their plan to move ahead with the recovery operation. The military spokesman also stated on Friday:
“You can see heavy cranes and bulldozers here to quickly remove the concrete debris, but we can’t use them at the moment as our prime objective is to retrieve the people alive first.”
The death toll from the Bangladesh building collapse reached 304 on Friday as thousands of residents flooded the streets of Dhaka in anger over the deaths. The building, which housed four garment factories, employed 3,122 workers. However, it was not clear how many people were working when the collapse happened.
Brigadier General Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is overseeing the rescue operations, stated that 2,200 people have been rescued so far, while 304 bodies have been recovered. Rescue workers are using their hands, hammers, and shovels to move debris and rescue as many as possible.
But many of the trapped workers are badly hurt and weakened. Facing high temperatures with humidity, many of the survivors are also dehydrated. Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy told reporters on Friday that rescue operations would continue nonstop until at least Saturday.
The Bangladesh building collapse served to highlight again the poor working conditions of the nation’s factory workers, as well as the buildings’ poor safety standards. A fire in the same region in December killed more than 110 garment factory workers.
[Image via Twitter]