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3 die in lift collapse in city

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The Daily Star front page, Published On: 2011-07-22

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M Rahman and Shahin Mollah

Four workers died as a makeshift lift carrying them plunged to the ground in a terrifying free-fall at an under-construction building in the city's Kakrail yesterday evening.

The dead were Zahidul Islam, 26, Delwar Hossain, 28, and his two nephews Rubel, 20, and Abdur Rahman, 18.

The lift, on its way up to 13th floor, was also loaded with around 25 packets of tiles; each pack weighed 28kg. It fell as its cables snapped.

According to Bangladesh National Building Code, another worker, said.

“I was also looking down the shaft to see if the lift had reached 12th floor.” The lift could not go beyond that level.

“But it was taking unusually a longer time. Suddenly, I heard sound of tearing of its cables and found it going down fast,” he said.

“Running down the staircases, I went to the labourers' shed in the basement and informed other workers about the disaster,” he added.

The workers rushed to the spot where the lift fell and found the four in the pile of tiles.

The victims, all of whom were almost thrashed and looked lifeless to their colleagues, were however taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. There, doctors declared them dead.

Sohel said the lift was being used for carrying goods and workers at the building being constructed by Building for Future Ltd.

Sekender Ali Mina, programme director of rights body Safety and Rights Society, said Bangladesh National Building Code reads “A material hoist shall not be used to transport worker(s). Temporary elevator shall be installed if necessary.”

Sohel also said the elevator was in poor condition and lacking safety door in its passage.

The victims had been doing overtime from 5:30pm after completing their shift from 8:00am to 5:00pm, he added.

An official of the developer company was reached over the phone late at night. But the person refused to say anything.

Ajgar Ali, a foreman of the building, told The Daily Star the temporary service elevator was a makeshift one and it was used from dawn to around 10:00pm almost every day.

He claimed it had a capacity to carry 1,000kg.

Officer-in-Charge Mohammad Rafiqul Islam of Ramna Police Station said they had detained a site engineer from the spot in this connection.

Nobody else from the developer was found at the project site, he said.

ADC Nurul Islam of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna) said steps would be taken if any fault on the part of the authorities is found.

Between January and April this year, 59 people died because of the construction authorities' callousness and lack of care for human life, according to Safety and Rights Society.

Earlier on July 6, Habibur Rahman Munna, an HSC examinee of Tejgaon College, died at a roadside construction site of Sagufta Group on Panthapath in the capital. A brick fell on him from 10th floor.

Also, Chittagong Technical College student Usha-e-Marma, 20, sustained severe head injury as a brick from an under-construction building fell on his head on July 19.

In a suo moto order, a High Court bench on July 19 summoned the chairman and managing director of Sagufta Group in connection with Munna's death.

An HC bench yesterday directed the two to appear before the court at 10:30am on July 26 to explain their role in the incident, what safety measures they took and if there was any negligence on their part.