Responding to the tragedy in Savar

April 26, 2013 by

To donate to BRAC’s relief efforts, BRAC has partnered with Jolkona to raise money for BRAC Limb & Brace Centre custom prosthetics and counseling for victims of the building collapse and their families. To donate, please go to Or U.S. cellular phone users can text “BRAC” to 20222 to donate $10 via mobile.

Read the New York Times op-ed by BRAC founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in response to the tragedy in Savar, “Bangladesh needs strong unions, not outside pressure.”

Listen to a BBC interview with Babar Kabir, senior director at BRAC and head of BRAC’s Disaster, Environment, and Climate Change program, which first aired live on April 28, 2013.

BRAC staff join the many around the world in mourning the tragic building collapse on April 24, 2013, at Rana Plaza in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. The following contains the latest updates from the BRAC Disaster, Environment and Climate Change (DECC) program, which has been coordinating BRAC’s relief efforts.

We will update this blog post regularly with further details and statements. 

Counselling session at the Savar temporary Super Clinic established at Odhorchandra School. (Photo: BRAC)

Counselling session at the Savar temporary Super Clinic established at Odhorchandra School. (Photo: BRAC)

As of May 8:

Rescuers have pulled out 67 more bodies from the debris of Rana Plaza in Savar as the rescue operation stepped into 14th straight day on Tuesday, with the death toll reaching 746, according to The Daily Star on May 7. The following chart is from official Government updates, as of May 6, 2013:

Total Rescued


Rescued Lives


Death bodies rescued


Dead body handed over


Dead bodies kept at DMC Morgue


Buried by AnjumanMofidul Islam


Dead bodies yet to hand over


Death after rescued alive


As the rescue operations have now faded, measures are now focusing on rehabilitation needs of the victims. BRAC is currently formualting a comprehensive database of all the victims with their details in order to address their long term needs, through the support of BRAC ICT, Disaster Environment and Climate Change, Microfinance, and Health Nutrition and Population programmes.

BRAC is also providing psychosocial support to the victims through trauma counselling. This service has been provided by counsellors from Dhaka University, BRAC University and BRAC staff. So far, DECC can report the following psychosocial support has been provided:

Name of Hospital

No. of psychosocial counselors

No. of patients interviewed

No. of patients admitted










NITOR (Pongu Hospital)






Savar CMH





Enam Medical College





Super Clinic/ Odhorchandra school





BRAC Psychosocial support team counselling families of the missing at Adhar Chandra High School. (Photo: BRAC)

Members of the BRAC Psychosocial support team counselling families of the missing at Adhar Chandra High School. (Photo: BRAC)

As of April 29:

In addition to three BRAC medical teams working in three different spots (Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaeadic Rehabilitation (NITOR), and onsite at Savar), four psychological trauma counselling teams (4-6 in each team) have been put in service, comprised of counsellors from BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Program; Community Empowerment Program; Disaster, Environment and Climate Change Program; and BRAC University.

They have visited different hospitals/spots (DMCH, NITOR, Savar Combined Military Hospital, Enam Medical Hospital) and made an initial assessment. So far on the first day, they have interviewed and assessed the counselling needs of 205 admitted patients at different hospitals (31 at DMCH, 23 at NITOR, 50 at Savar Combined Military Hospital, and 80 at Enam Medical Center, 21 at the temporary clinic set up at Odhorchandra School).

From April 28 onwards, they will continue with the assessment process and start psychological trauma counselling support according to the individual’s need. It is expected that more trauma counsellors from different BRAC programs will be joining the teams soon.

  • The team at Savar site, as of April 27Our Savar medical team is continuing services for the third day in the combined medical camp located immediately outside the accident site. Doctors and Managers from BRAC are continuously serving there as a part of the Medical team being coordinated by the Bangladesh Army and district Health Authority.Since the rescue operation is still ongoing, the BRAC team there will remain until further notice.The team provided treatment to 32 new patients in the camp on Saturday, for a total of 117.The Savar team is also providing necessary support in Enam Medical College and prepared a complete list from admitted patients who will require rehabilitation later.
  • The Team at DMCH, as of April 27Our team at DMCH is continuing their support. They have updated the patients’ profile with complete address and contact details, re-assessed admitted patients’ condition.As of April 27, seven out of 32 currently admitted patients have any of their limbs amputated who will require rehabilitation support later. However, there are many among the admitted patients in DMCH who have massive lacerated injuries in their limbs and may need to go for amputation.Six more patients were admitted to DMCH today, bringing the total patients received by DMCH to 34. As of the night of April 27, two deaths were reported out of these 34 admitted patients in DMCH.
  • The Team at NITOR, as of April 27The team at NITOR is continuing with their work there together with NITOR Team and The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed. They have updated the common patients profile and completed the list of patients who have lost their limbs and will require rehabilitation support later. At least 20 of the admitted patients in NITOR have lost one or more limbs. The number may increase as many of the patients admitted there have massive lacerated injuries.On April 27, 12 new patients were admitted to NITOR. So total number of seriously injured patients at NITOR is now 61.All patients admitted at NITOR are getting full medical and special support from the Government. The government also distributed 5000 Bangladeshi taka to each patient to cover medicines and other consumable costs.

Our BRAC Limb and Brace Centre team was instructed to get ready for the post-trauma rehabilitation work (physiotherapy, artificial limbs etc) and to make an advance assessment for making the center prepared with necessary materials.

Employees of the BRAC Bank branch in the building were evacuated on Tuesday after seeing the cracks appear, and were among those told not to show up to work on Wednesday.

From the BRAC community, 30 have been reported dead (1 BRAC education program student, 18 student family members, two microfinance village organization (VO) members, sixVO family members, three relatives of BRAC community health promoters) so far and 23 are injured (one VO member, nine VO family members and 13 student family members). We know of nineteen more still missing.

“Credit must be given to the community members of Savar who selflessly worked to rescue people, in addition to the army, fire service, and border guard who were also instrumental along with air force and navy personnel on the scene,” says Babar Kabir, senior director in charge of disaster relief at BRAC.

“We also need to start thinking of our long term response,” Kabir continues. “There are a number of amputees; families of our microfinance village organization members who perished; students from BRAC schools who have lost one or both parents.”

BRAC’s Limb and Brace Centres, the first of which opened in 2000, have treated over 3,000 patients, fitting prosthetic limbs as well as providing information, education and counseling services to patients and their family members. BRAC’s central Limb and Brace Centre is located in Dhaka.

Contact details:

Disaster management:
Dr Babar Kabir
Sr Director, Disaster, Environment & Climate Change
Ph: +8801714091383

Human rights and PIL filed on labor law:
Dr Faustina Perreira
Director, Human Rights & Legal Aid Services.
Email :
Ph: +8801715007470

Media (Bangladesh):
Mahbubul Alam Kabir
Sr. Media Manager, Communications
Ph: +8801711404561

Media (International):
Tasfiyah Jalil
Manager, Communications
Ph: +8801730351398