Humans in inhuman space
Nearly 170 labourers lived in the two-storey building in the Salmaniya Area, which collapsed following a gas cylinder explosion on Tuesday, sources said. Tens were crammed into one room, violating the labour laws regarding the provision of accommodation facilities to expatriate workers, they added.
Thirty-five injured among the 45 admitted to Salmaniya Medical Complex and BDF Hospital following the accident, are recovering while a few continue to be in a critical state, it is learnt. Speaking to Tribune, Shaikh Mohammed Tauhidul Islam, Labour Counsellor of the Bangladesh Embassy, said three died after being trapped in the rubble while one breathed his last at the hospital bed. “The two-storey building had over 20 rooms, seven on the ground floor, 10 on the first floor and three on the top floor. The rooms were filled with nearly 170 labourers,” he said.
“The survivors are now in a miserable state having lost everything. Embassy arranged meals for them today. We will offer all kind of support to the victims and we are constantly interacting with the officials of the Labour Ministry. “Affected labourers can now choose to live either in embassy shelter or the LMRA shelter.”
“Among the 45 affected, 15 received primary treatment and we shifted 13 to the Karama Shelter. We are in our best efforts to establish contacts with the relatives of the deceased after identifying them,” he added. Migrant Workers Protection Society President Marietta Dias said the owners of such buildings must be held accountable. “We can’t blame the authorities for everything that has happened. The individuals who force labourers into such living conditions, in which even animals can’t exist, must be punished.” Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior confirmed the death of four individuals. “Civil Defence continues the search and rescue operations at the site of the collapsed building in Salmaniya and three bodies were retrieved, while one victim died at the hospital.” Major General Tariq Al Hassan, Head of Public Security, praised the follow-up by His Royal Highness the Prime Minister to investigate the reasons that led to the building collapse.
He added “The main operations room received a communication at 7:20 pm on Tuesday. The patrols managed to reach the site within three minutes. A security cordon around the site of the incident managed the traffic control.” “Further, the Civil Defence personnel worked immediately upon arrival to remove the rubble and remove the stranded by using drones and sniffer dogs at the site of the accident with medical crews who transferred them to the hospital immediately.
“An emergency plan was implemented for evacuation and the stranded were transferred to Dar Al Karama Social Welfare Centre.” “The Public Prosecution was informed of the incident, stressing the responsibility of the owners of residential buildings to provide safety requirements to protect the lives of the residents.” Maj Gen Al Hassan thanked all personnel who were part of the rescue operation. In light of the incident, the General Directorate of Civil Defence urged citizens and residents to comply with public safety requirements regarding gas connections.
Tribune had previously reported a similar incident where a gas cylinder leakage in a restaurant in downtown Manama ignited an inferno causing an explosion, which led to a collapse of the restaurant building and damaged several numbers of shops and cars. Following the incident, Tribune had investigated the matter on how individuals and restaurants in the Capital were violating the laws governing the use of gas cylinders.