Archive for the ‘Disaster management’ Category

4th Day of Rescue: Improved and Optimistic   Leave a comment

On the 4th day when I went there second time for photographing. I saw some epic heroic acts- an electrician from a garment factory crawling inside a precariously standing pile of rubble to find survivors. A garment factory worker went down under several stories of ruins to pull out 4 survivor and dead-bodies and succeeded despite injuring his foot. A young men injured during rescue continued his work. A textile engineer from Comilla, a trained volunteer of Red-Crescent, was working for days in the site and rescued survivors. But, definitely the pivotal role of the rescue was played by the fire-fighters. Though many efforts were spearheaded by volunteers from public  but fire-fighters were also working shoulder to shoulder with them. They were the main facilitator of the rescue. The way they worked relentlessly with limited resource is super humane. But the toughest of all were the survivors who lived through all disasters beyond all speculations and gave the rescuers opportunity to work. The combined effort has perhaps made it one of the most extraordinary rescue operations. I saw some comic pieces too- an young army officer leading a group for the search of survivors was a bit demanding about his personal gears and made his men change those so many times and the number of people and time he consumed for those could probably be totaled into a mini-rescue. However, I saw a much more organized operation at 4th day. Military officers were more active and they were working in coordination with the volunteers and fire department. They were more active but their inexperience and lack of preparation and motivation for such work were still visible. By this time supply chain was also organized and necessary things were stored in adequate quantity. It was very promising because it shows the rescuers and their leadership were responsive to the opinions from different quarters, they were learning from their experience and they were trying to improve their performance. This part I think is particularly important- learning and improving performance.

Yet, the role of some media and photography professionals were far from desired- they were quarreling with the rescuers, disturbing their operation peeping their noses (lenses) to far, and making dangerous maneuvers to get photo, which could put in risk not only themselves but also all the rescuers.

However, some of the new concerns has emerged- the survivors are affected not only physically but also psychologically. They need medical care as well as psychological support. They need long-term psycho-somatic rehabilitation support too. Not only the victims but many of the rescuers are also injured and signs of post traumatic stress disorder are also developing among them. They need care for some period too. Now we have to focus on these issues. And still remains the question of punishing the perpetrators of this crime and the preventive measures to avoid such disasters in future.

Therefore 6 more suggestions for disaster management-

The government should provide-

1. Long-term psycho-somatic rehabilitation support to the survivors

2. Long-term  rehabilitation support for the survivors with disabilities

3. Treatment and psychological care support for the rescuers to treat injuries and present post traumatic stress disorder

4. Adequate recognition and reward for the volunteers and professionals for their exceptional roles in rescue

5. Taking adequate measures for preventing such preventable disasters

6. Making legal provision and practice of tougher punishments for the perpetrators responsible for such disasters

Rana plaza; Garment factory collapse

Rescuers pulling out rubble with buckets from many storied down to free survivors.  Photo: © Abu Ala

Rana plaza; Garment factory collapse

A volunteer Garment Worker is preparing to crawl through the pockets of rubble to search survivors. Photo: © Abu Ala

Rana plaza; Garment factory collapse

A volunteer Garment Worker is having some food after pulling out survivors from the deep of collapsed building. Photo: © Abu Ala

Rana plaza; Garment factory collapse

A volunteer Garment Worker is entering through an opening in collapsed building to search survivors. Photo: © Abu Ala

Rana plaza; Garment factory collapse

A volunteer Garment Worker is preparing to crawl through the pockets of rubble to search survivors. Photo: © Abu Ala

Rana plaza collapse

Heavy lifting and rescue machinery are deployed but could not be used to avoid further collapse to save lives of survivors. Photo: © Abu Ala

More Photos –

4th day in Rana Plaza: Where at humanity remain triumphant at the end. Still they live, still they are pulled out from the rubble—


Savar Building Collapse Rescue Operation and Some Points about Disaster Management   1 comment

( It was initially published in slightly different form as Abu Ala Hasan: 9 Proposals for Disaster Preparedness at
I went to Savar building collapse site yesterday. For photographing I had to go inside the building and for the whole day I closely observed the rescue efforts in and outside of the building. First, I would like to acknowledge the heroic effort by some of the members of the public, fire service and armed forces. These people are risking their life without any safety measures to save others. They are working like super human for days without rest in a place no better than hell with acute stench of rotten human flesh, intense heat, dust, darkness and suffocating atmosphere. I salute them.
Now I want to focus on some aspects of the management of this rescue operation by the authorities responsible-
1. I did not see professional discipline from many of the members of armed forces there. They were wondering aimlessly inside the disaster site and lacked motivation and effort. Effective commanding and leadership was clearly lacking. They also failed to cordon and seclude the disaster site properly.
2.The coordination among different agencies were also lacking.
3. Basic equipments for such rescue such as hack-saws, hammers, concrete cutters, lighting arrangements, torch lights, power supply was inadequate.
4. There was no distribution arrangement for such tools when and where required. Volunteers were standing with the placards beside the road and people were providing those (including myself)
5. The main force of this rescue was the untrained people who volunteered. There was no guidance, facilitation, coordination and supervision of their efforts by the authorities responsible for the rescue.
6. Private sector fire fighters were a significant force but there was no facilitation and coordination of their activities either.
7. Crowds were terrible, people without any purpose flocked there just to watch. Law-enforcement agencies and volunteers started to block them kilometers away yet thousands managed to slip through.
8. People who are responsible for such operation seemed to lack skill, experience and motivation for such rescue effort and their performance was not satisfactory as I mentioned about the miss-management earlier.
9. The agencies seemed to be lacking adequate, training, skills, equipments and motivations for such rescue operations.
10. Volunteers played an important role to keep the curious crowd at bay and roads clear for ambulances (many of whom might be ruling party loyalists, according to local people; it was good job; though their presence was not visible at the disaster site as of other political party supporters)
11. Some media staffs, photographers were going very close, disturbing the rescuers and hindering the rescue operation. some even entered with arguments with rescuers.
12. Media, except few, failed to convey the picture of miss-management and news of necessary equipments and needs.
Therefore, my quick suggestions are-
1. we need to improve the capacity of our authorities for rescue and salvage in terms of skills, training, motivation and equipments.
2. There should be a mechanism to mobilize and manage the volunteers from the public in such occasions; who have already been proven as an asset.
3. There should be a coordinated effort to train volunteers from the public.
4. responsibility to coordinate / leadership of such operations should be given to trained and experienced professionals who have the capacity to manage such efforts rather than some military or other officials.
5. fire service should be lead by professional fire fighters or rescue professionals.
6. Community involvement for civil defense and rescue should be increased.
7. Mass people should be made aware about disaster situations so that they do not make the rescue operations more difficult. Media could play an important role in this regard.
8. Media could keep the people and the authorities aware and informed about the needs in such situations to ensure timely supply and action.
9. There should be a proper and well communicated guideline for media and media personnel for such situation so that they can not hinder rescue. Media houses should educate their staffs about such norms.Link of my photos of the disaster site:
Rescue effort goes into 2nd day at the collapsed Savar building
Two rescuers are resting after pulling out bodies from the rubble; Photo:© Abu Ala
Photo:© Abu Ala
Photo:© Abu Ala
Rana plaza collapse
It is a slow and arduous task to remove rubble by hand to save survivors; heavy machines could not be used to avoid further collapse . Photo:© Abu Ala
Public agitated by the slow progress of rescue jumped into pulling down the rubble. Photo:© Abu Ala