[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Woman found alive in Bangladesh factory ruins

Garment worker pulled from rubble 17 days after building collapse left more than 1,050 people dead.

Last Modified: 11 May 2013 03:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Bangladeshi rescuers have pulled a woman alive from the ruins of a collapsed garment factory complex after she spent 17 days trapped in a basement under the rubble.

Hours after officials had announced the death toll had surged past the 1,000 mark, recovery teams who had long given up any hope of finding more survivors were stunned to hear the voice of a woman calling for help.

Reshma Begum was discovered near a Muslim prayer room in the basement of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building at the outskirts of Dhaka, where crews have been focused on recovering bodies, not rescuing survivors, since late April.

The 18-year-old, who used to work as a sewing machine operator in the factory, was in such good shape she was able to walk, according to one rescuer.

"There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days," Begum told the private Somoy TV from her hospital bed.

"The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me.

"I would shout out for help but no one heard me."

Begum is understood to have finally got the attention of emergency workers when she took a steel pipe and began banging it.

Rescuers then ordered the cranes and bulldozers to immediately stop and used handsaws and welding and drilling equipment to cut through the iron rod and debris still trapping her.

They gave her water, oxygen and saline as they worked to free her.

'God is great'

They managed to extract her from the ruins in an operation broadcast live on television and watched by crowds at the scene who were asked by clerics to pray for her rescue.

Cries of "Allahu Akbar" - "God is great" - rang out from the crowd as Begum was pulled out of the rubble.

"It was a miracle. We lost all hopes of finding her alive. We visited every hospital in Dhaka and Savar. We visited the mortuaries and checked every dead body they pulled out," Begum's brother, Zahidul Islam, told AFP news agency.

"Then the news came this afternoon that a woman called Reshma has been found alive," said Islam.

A doctor at the Savar Combined Military Hospital said Begum appeared to be in good health despite her ordeal.

"Her heart is fine. Her breathing is fine. Her brain is functioning well. We [will know more] after getting her biochemical report," he said.

Government probe

News of the rescue came as recovery teams were preparing to wrap up their work at the site after discovering scores more corpses in the tangle of concrete.

A spokesman for the army, which is overseeing the recovery operation, said the death toll had reached 1,053, making it one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

More than 3,000 workers were on shift on the morning of April 24 when the building suddenly caved in.

Most were earning around $40 a month to make clothing for Western brands such as Italy's Benetton, Britain's Primark and the Spanish label Mango.

A preliminary government probe blamed vibrations from four giant generators on the upper floors for triggering the collapse.

Police have arrested 12 people including the plaza's owner and four factory bosses for forcing people to work on the day of the disaster, even though cracks appeared in the structure the day before.

571

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.