The death toll in the Rana Plaza disaster soared to 525 yesterday as heavy equipment continued to remove large chunks of rubble, only to discover bodies underneath.
Yesterday, 80 bodies were found, the highest found in a single day since the second phase of the rescue operation began on the night of April 28 with heavy equipment and sniffer dogs.
More bodies are thought to be buried under the debris of the nine-storey Rana Plaza and rescuers fear the toll could rise sharply as they go deeper into the pile of rubble.
The rescuers were seen removing the roof of the top floor yesterday using cranes. The concrete roof was being removed in sections.
Rana Plaza, which housed several garment factories, came crashing down on April 24 after owners forced several thousand workers to work there despite cracks having developed on some pillars and floors the day before. It is still unclear how many workers were there on that fateful day.
The building also had some shops but most of them were closed due to a hartal.
Yesterday morning, Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, general officer commanding of Bangladesh Army’s Ninth Infantry Division, told reporters that the rescuers had found most bodies in places like staircases and passages which the workers tried to use to make their way out of the building.
He could not say how many bodies were still in the rubble. The bodies recovered yesterday morning were sent to Dhaka Medical College morgue, he added.
He said the bodies were being recovered with utmost respect to the deceased.
Some rescuers said they were pulling out bodies that had been severely decomposed and some were with missing limbs, making it very difficult for relatives to identify them. All bodies were first taken to Adhar Chandra High School playground for identification.
“I have seen around 60 bodies, but at least 15 of them had some limbs missing,” Faizul Muhit, an NGO official working as a volunteer, told The Daily Star.