Chawkbazar Fire: DMC air heavy with wails | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 22, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:27 AM, February 22, 2019

Chawkbazar Fire: DMC air heavy with wails

Yusuf Kazi was sitting on a broken chair near the Dhaka Medical College morgue around 9:45am yesterday. He was wailing and talking on the phone. 

“Why did I keep him with me?” he sobbed.

He said his cousin Kazi Enamul Haque, a graduate who stayed with him at his home in Chawkbazar, was burnt to death when he went to a dentist at a clinic near Hazi Wahed Mansion on Wednesday night.

The blaze that burnt to death at least 67 people and injured over a dozen left hundreds of their near and dear ones in total shock. Some could not be traced. 

The ambience at Dhaka Medical College premises was heavy with the sounds of bawling.  

Family members were sitting or standing around the morgue and crying to see the remains of their loved ones -- a scene that would move even the most cold-hearted.

Some could identify the charred bodies of their relatives, but most could not. 

A staffer at the morgue asked the relatives not to stay inside for long. But it was difficult for him to control the rush of inconsolable people.

At one stage, the morgue became so overcrowded that police closed the door, asking all to stay outside. Yet they desperately tried to have one last look through the window.

As the day went on, more and more family members of the Chawkbazar tragedy victims gathered at the morgue premises, further crowding the place. Most of them wanted to take the bodies of their loved ones without autopsy.

Around a dozen policemen were busy preparing inquest reports and filing unnatural death cases for each of the identified bodies to ensure speedy handover.

Leaders of various political parties, charities, civil societies also visited the relatives and tried to console them.

Dr Sohel Mahmud, head of forensic medicine department of Dhaka Medical College, said this is not a new experience for them. They dealt with such situation in the past, especially after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar in 2013 and the fire at Tazreen Fashion Factory in 2012.

“We had discharged our duties previously. I hope we can handle the situation this time too,” Dr Sohel said.

Meanwhile, office of Dhaka Deputy Commissioner (DC) opened an information centre at the morgue.

Those who could not trace their relatives gathered there.

Around 2:10pm, the Dhaka Medical College morgue authorities began handing over the bodies to relatives.

At least 39 bodies were handed over yesterday till 9:30pm, while the rest were unidentified. Twelve remain missing. Many were still waiting to identify the bodies of victims.

Imrul Hasan, senior assistant commissioner and executive magistrate at Dhaka DC office, told The Daily Star that the unidentified bodies will have to go through DNA test.

Names of relatives of the missing were recorded and they will have to contact the office later, he said.

“It takes two weeks to one month to complete the DNA test. So, they have to wait till then,” a professor of forensic medicine told The Daily Star.

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