Holding her five-year-old boy close to her heart, Shirin has been looking for her husband's body for the past three days. “He went out as usual on that day, but did not retun home at night,” she said in a choked voice outside the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) morgue. Since the deadly fire at Chawkbazaar, there has been no trace of his husband, who was a rickshaw puller. His family members have assumed that he died in the fire. “The hospital authorities took my blood for DNA sampling,” Shirin told The Independent. “I hope that this would help them identify his remains,” she said.
Mainul Hussain Chowdhury too is searching for his brother, Anwar Hussain Chowdhury, who owned a pharmacy near the Wahed Mansion from where the fire had originated.
“Everything is burnt down to the bone there. The bodies are completely charred; they can’t be identified. The hospital authorities are taking DNA samples for identification,” said Mainul.
Mainul told The Independent that Anwar’s son went to his father’s shop just 10 minutes before the fire started. “My brother told him that he would close the shop very soon. He even talked with his wife over the phone,” he said.
Dhaka Medical College and Hospital has so far handed over 47 dead bodies to the bereaved relatives after cross-matching and identification. Suhrawardi Medical College Hospital has handed over one dead body to the relatives.
To conduct a DNA cross-matching test for 19 unrecognisable bodies, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police has collected samples from 32 people.
Dhaka assistant commissioner Abullah Al Mahfuz and CID assistant DNA analyst Nusrat Yasmin told the media in front of the DMC morgue that they would soon finish the DNA cross-matching tests. “We are still waiting more people to come for the dead bodies. This is going to be very tough for us as most of the dead bodies are fully charred. It’s even hard to get DNA samples from those bodies,” said Yasmin.
“At this point, it’s not possible for us to give an exact timeframe for finishing the identification process,” she added.