Dhaka: Thousands of mourners gathered on Tuesday at the wreckage of the Bangladesh's worst building disaster to offer prayers for the 1,127 people who died when the eight-storeyed structure collapsed in April. The Islamic prayer service was held a day after the army ended the nearly three week, painstaking search for bodies among the rubble and turned control of the site over to the civilian government for cleanup.
A statement from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, mourning the deaths and thanking the rescuers, was read out ahead of the prayers. Government ministers and senior leaders joined the prayer, even as officials said at least 176 people are still missing after 20 days of search operations as army troops, fire fighters and ordinary volunteers rescued 2444 people alive.
The mourners raised their cupped hands praying for the peace for those killed when the Rana Plaza in suburban Savar came crashing down on April 24. Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the military commander who had been supervising the site, thanked all those involved in the rescue work.
He said the army has prepared a list of 1,000 survivors which will be handed over to the government, recommending them for jobs on a priority basis. Officials said the missing could be among the 234 decomposed bodies yet to be identified. They were buried at a government graveyard after collecting DNA samples. The samples are expected to be matched with relatives later. 59 bodies are still in various morgues.
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. Police has so far arrested 12 people, including the owner of the building and four garment factory owners, who are accused of forcing workers to return to work a day after huge cracks were reported in the structure.