Thousands of mourners gathered yesterday at the wreckage of a Bangladeshi garment factory building to offer prayers for the souls of the 1,127 people who died in the structure’s collapse last month, the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry.
The Islamic prayer service was held a day after the army ended the nearly three week search for bodies among the rubble and turned control of the site over to the civilian government for cleanup.
Recovery workers got a shocking boost on Friday last week when they pulled a 19-year-old seamstress alive from the wreckage, but most of their work entailed removing corpses that were so badly decomposed from the heat they could only be identified if their cellphones or work IDs were found with them. The last body was found on Sunday night.
The mourners raised their cupped hands in prayer yesterday and asked for the salvation of those who lost their lives when the Rana Plaza building came crashing down on April 24. They also appealed for divine blessings for the injured still in the hospital.
Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the military commander who had been supervising the site, thanked all those involved in the work. He said the army has prepared a list of 1,000 survivors of the collapse that it would hand to the government with the recommendation they be provided jobs on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, dozens of people still massed at the site yesterday waiting for news of their missing relatives.
Clutching laminated photographs of their wives or sisters or daughters, the relatives then lined up at a government office to register the names of the missing as the authorities fenced off the site.
“We’re listing the names of missing people. We’ve opened a control room for them,” Kamrul Hasan Molla, government administrator of the district, told Agence France-Presse, adding there were “around 100 people” seeking news of their relatives.
Molla said the missing people could be among the 234 who have been buried at a government graveyard after their bodies became so decomposed that they could not be identified.
“We have collected DNA profiles of those who we have buried. We’ll match the DNA with the relatives,” he said.
At least 834 bodies have been handed over to relatives after they were identified, many by their mobile phones which were found in their pockets or identity cards hanging around their neck.
“Fifty-nine more bodies are being kept in a mortuary,” he added.