Ten women died in stampede and at least 50 others injured on Monday as thousands of poor people, mostly women, grappled for zakat clothes and iftar items at Satkania in Chittagong.
Satkani Upazila Health Complex medical officer Md Imtiaz told New Age that these people died of stampede.
‘A total of six patients came to the health complex. Of them, five were admitted to our health complex and one was sent to CMCH,’ he said.
The locals alleged mismanagement and huge crowd for the stampede at village Gatiadenga.
Nine of the victims who were identified so far are Hasina Akhter and Rashida Akter of Khagria union, Rina Begum and Saki of Dhemsha union, Nur Ayesha of Bandarban, Anwara Begum of Dohajari, Josna Begum, Nurjahan and Tuntuni of Kolauzan union. The rest one could not be identified immediately.
The dead include two children — Tuntuni, daughter of Saleh Ahmed and Nurjahan, daughter of Alauddin
of Kolaouzan union of Lohagara Upazila.
On Monday afternoon, injured Mostafa Begum, 50, of Amilaesh union was admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Her skull, left eye and jaw were severely affected as she fell on to the ground amid jostling.
‘The incident occurred at 10:30am. Nine women died on the spot while another died at Satkania Health Complex. Many were taken to hospital,’ said Satkania police station officer-in-charge Sheikh Farid Uddin.
Satkania upazila nirbahi officer Md Mobarak Hossain said over 30,000 people from nearby villages and unions gathered at Kaderia Muinul Ulum Dakhil Madrassa field and its surrounding areas since Sunday night to collect iftar items to be distributed by Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills Limited owner Mohammad Shahjahan.
The queue of women kept growing since Monday morning and it turned mammoth after 9:00am, local people of Gatiadenga union said, adding that towards 10:00am the makeshift entrance collapsed, leading to the stampede.
‘After the mayhem, the zakat distribution was postponed. Nearly 50 women were injured and some are undergoing treatment at the upazila health complex,’ said Nolua union parishad chaiman Toslima Absar.
She said hundreds of women from different unions gathered to collect zakat ahead of Ramadan.
Additional superintendent of Chittagong (South) police Md Emran Bhuiyan said the incident took place at a madrasa field in Nolua union in the morning. ‘The gathering was enormous as the authorities of KSRM were preparing to distribute iftar items and zakat among poor people.’
KSRM official Mohammad Rafique said the owner of the company arranged the programme like previous years.
‘The incident occurred as the number of people seeking the goods was beyond their estimation. The people did not wait in a queue rather they rushed to collect the iftar items.’
Chittagong deputy commissioner Mohammad Elius Hossain told New Age that they had formed a five-member committee Monday evening to probe the incident.
‘Additional district magistrate Mashedul Kabir would lead the committee, which would submit the report in 5-7 working days,’ he said.
As per the government rule, the district administration is collecting details of the deceased and later the government would provide compensation to the affected families, said the DC.
He said that none of the local administration was aware about the zakat and iftar distribution.
‘The casualty could be avoided if the organisers had informed the administration as it could carry out the distribution in a disciplined way.’
Visiting the spot, Chittagong superintendent of police Nure Alam Meena told reporters that they would take action against people responsible as the deaths and injuries were caused for negligence which was an offence under the Bangladesh Penal Code.
KSRM chief executive officer Md Meherul Karim said that the company’s managing director, Md Shajahan, was present to distribute the iftar items among the poor.
They had prepared packets of chickpeas, sugar, vermicelli, onions and other food items for 20,000 people.
Karim said, ‘We usually distribute zakat among the villagers. But this year people from nearby villages came.’
‘We had previously informed the district administration and police. Police, as well as over 100 of our own security staff were present. A medical team was also on standby. But we have still had a disaster,’ he claimed.
Karim said the families of each of the dead will receive Tk 300,000 in compensation. The company will also bear the cost of any medical treatment for the injured. Jobs will also be arranged for families of the dead if they wished to work at KSRM.
In 2007, at least six people were killed in stampede during distribution of iftar items by the KSRM Company.
On December 18, 2017, at least 10 people were killed and 50 others injured as guests rushed into a community centre to attend a post-funeral feast for the Chittagong City Corporation’s late former mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury in Chittagong city.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country