Dhaka building collapse: Woman pulled alive from rubble

The BBC's Akbar Hossain: "People here are extremely surprised." Photo courtesy Shariful Islam

A woman has been pulled alive from the ruins of an eight-storey building that collapsed in a suburb of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, 17 days ago.

Rescuers said the woman, named Reshma, was found in the remains of the second floor of the Rana Plaza after they heard her crying: "Please save me."

She has been taken to hospital, but is not thought to have serious injuries.

More than 1,000 are now confirmed to have died, most of them women working in clothes factories.

The authorities said 2,437 people had been rescued, of whom about 1,000 had suffered serious injuries.

Reshma: "I kept banging whatever I could with my legs but no-one could hear me"

Dozens lost limbs as they were cut free from the wreckage.

The accident is one of the deadliest industrial disasters in history.

Crews using heavy machinery have begun removing rubble from the worst-damaged areas, and are expecting to find more bodies.

Brig-Gen Siddiqul Alam said rescuers had found a huge number of bodies under staircases.

"When the building started to collapse, workers thought they would be safe under the staircases. Each time we moved a slab of concrete, we found a stack of bodies," he said.

Start Quote

Over two weeks after collapse, there is still no agreement on exactly how many workers and staff were present in the building”

End Quote Sabir Mustafa BBC Bengali service
'I'm still here'

Soldiers were reported to have been preparing to break through a large concrete slab at about 15:15 local time (10:15 GMT) on Friday when the woman was discovered.

The worker who first discovered her told the BBC Bengali service: "I was cutting iron rods when I suddenly found a silvery stick just moving from a hole.

"I looked closer and heard someone calling 'Please save me'. I immediately called over soldiers and firefighters."

Officers ordered workers operating heavy machinery to stop, and rescuers used video and audio detection equipment to locate her exact position.

Crews saw a woman waving her hand, and she shouted "I'm still here" and told rescuers her name was Reshma.

Within minutes, hundreds of soldiers and firefighters rushed to the scene to help clear the rubble, says the BBC's Akbar Hossain in Dhaka.

The woman said that she was not badly hurt, and she was given water and biscuits while handsaws and drilling equipment were brought in to cut through iron rods and debris.

Rubble survivor records

  • Naqsha Bibi - buried for 63 days in what had been her kitchen after 2005 Pakistan quake; survived on rotten food and water
  • Evans Monsignac - trapped for 27 days in the rubble after 2010 Haiti tremor; stayed alive by drinking sewage water
  • Park Seung Hyun - pulled from the wreckage of a supermarket in South Korea in 1995, 16 days after it collapsed; drank rainwater
  • Pedrito Dy - spent 14 days in the ruins of a hotel after the 1990 Philippines tremor; drank water and urine

Rescuers worked for 40 minutes before finally pulling her from the rubble, amid cheers from the crowd.

She was taken to an ambulance and then rushed to the nearby Combined Military Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

She later told local TV from her hospital bed that she never dreamt she would see daylight again.

"I heard voices of the rescue workers for several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods to attract their attention. No-one heard me," she said.

"I ate dried food for 15 days. The last two days I had nothing but water."

Her sister, Fatima, said the family had given up hope.

"When I first saw her on the TV, and when I realised that she was still alive, I was ecstatic," she told the BBC.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose government has been criticised for lax oversight of the clothing industry, spoke to the woman on the telephone.

Ms Hasina was reportedly flying to the hospital by helicopter to meet her.

Rana Plaza had housed several factories that made clothes for companies including Western retailers.

A preliminary government report suggested the collapse was been triggered when electricity generators switched on during a blackout.

At least nine people have been arrested over the accident, including the owner of the building and several factory bosses.

Rana Plaza collapse

Floor Factory/business

Seventh

New Wave Style*

Collapsed building

Sixth

New Wave Style*

Fifth

Ether Tex

Fourth

Phantom Tac

Third

Phantom Apparels

Second

New Wave Apparel, New Wave Bottoms

First

Brac Bank and shops

Ground

Brac Bank and shops

Source: BGMEA

Firms who say they used the Dhaka suppliers

Loblaw

"Our priorities are helping the victims and their families, and driving change to help prevent similar incidents in the future."

Primark

"Primark's team in Bangladesh has been working to put in place immediate and long-term help for victims of this disaster."

Joe Fresh

"Our priorities are helping impacted employees and their families, and driving change to help prevent similar incidents like this in the future."

Benetton

"We have since established that one of our suppliers had occasionally subcontracted orders to one of these Dhaka-based manufacturers."

Matalan

"Whilst we were not using any suppliers based in the building... We can confirm that we are working closely with the BGMEA and our local team in Bangladesh to provide financial and other support to help those affected."

Mango

"Mango would like to clarify that the supplier Phantom was not a supplier of the company, although they were planning to produce some samples for various company lines, samples that still had not been started."

Bonmarche

"We are committed to reviewing how we can learn from this with other retailers, but our focus now is rightly on information gathering and supporting where possible our supplier and the families of those involved in this tragedy."

The Children's Place

"One of our suppliers was located in the building that collapsed. While none of our apparel was being produced there at the time of the tragedy, we are fully aware of our responsibilities in the aftermath of this event. "

*Reports say New Wave Style supplied up to 27 companies from its Dhaka factories, but the full list is not available.

More on This Story

Dhaka collapse

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.