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Searching for their loved ones at the morgue

  • Published at 11:20 am February 23rd, 2019
web-chawkbazar Fire
The aftermath of Wednesday night's fire at Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta area of Old Dhaka has left hundreds reeling Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Searching for their loved ones at the morgue

Three days after the devastatingChawkbazar fire, relatives of the people who are still missing can only hope to recover the bodies of their loved ones from the authorities.

As of Friday, relatives thronged to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) morgue to look for their missing close ones.

Since the relatives have no way of discerning what happened to their missing family members, their first instinct was to go to the DMCH for updates.

The devastating fire left at least 67 people dead; where 46 bodies have been identified and handed over to their relatives, but 21 unidentified bodies remain at the DMCH morgue.

Relatives of the deceased crowded at the DMCH to  retrieve the bodies of their beloved persons. Those who have been unable to identify their loved ones should provide DNA samples to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials.

To preserve the unidentified dead bodies: four were kept at the DMCH morgue, five were sent to Mitford Hospital, three to Kurmitola General Hospital, five each to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital morgue, and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases; on Thursday night.

But most of the relatives from outside of Dhaka were unaware that the dead bodies had been shifted to different places. 

Although the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief launched emergency help lines on Thursday, to provide information about the people missing in the Chawkbazar inferno, most relatives said they were oblivious of where to go to receive adequate information.

In addition, an information centre, jointly run by the Disaster Management Ministry, district administration and fire service, has been opened at the DMCH to provide updated information about the victims.

While asking about the body of Anwar Hossain Monju, 40, a dispensary businessman of Chawkbazar area, Mainul Hossain Munna brother of Anwar said they have been searching for him since after the incident on Wednesday night.

“When we couldn't get my brother on the phone, we went to his shop and found four dead bodies inside his shop.

Chawkbazar fire victim Anwar Hossain Monju, 40, with his daughter | Collected

“After that, according to the direction of rescue team and fire service officials, we have started looking for my brother's body among many others in DMCH morgue,” Mainul added.

When the correspondent asked him if he looked for his brother’s body at the other four hospitals where the dead bodies have been transferred to, he said he had not been informed about that.

“Thursday morning, I went to Mitford Hospital to find my brother’s body but they told me all bodies were at the DMCH. Then I came here, searched among the other bodies but still could not find my brother.”

“Everything is over, my brother is no more with us. Now we are trying to get my brother’s body back but there is no one who can give us any information about it,” he added.

After the correspondent provided him with four helpline numbers for enquiries, Munna learned that three other hospital morgues also have the bodies of Chawkbazar fire victims.

Through further inquiry, he tracked down his brother’s body at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital and identified his brother by his clothes. The hospital handed Manju’s body over to his brother in the early hours of Saturday.

Munna just needed information to retrieve his brother’s body, and did not need to provide DNA, for cross-matching, to retrieve it.

Additionally, Sayeara Khatun from Keraniganj—mother of Raju, 31, who was a betel-leaf seller in Chawkbazar area, and is still missing after the incident—came to the DMCH to find her son’s body.

In tears, she asked the correspondent to do something to find the body of her only son.

“I have been searching for my son at every corner of the DMCH morgue but have not been able to find him. I want to see my son for the last time and bury him in-front of my home," she added.

While asking her about searching in other hospitals and calling the helpline numbers, she said she was not informed about this. 

Apart from them, Nilu Miya—brother-in-law of the deceased Md Mostofa who was a rickshaw-puller of Chawkbazar area—also did not know that the bodies had been transferred to different hospitals and that helpline numbers had been set up.

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