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Bangladesh Factory Collapse Survivor Reshma Begum Pulled From Rubble after 17 Days

Reshma Begum (Photo: bdnnews24)

Reshma Begum (Photo: bdnnews24)

A young woman was found alive and rescued from the rubble of the Bangladeshi garment factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 workers more than two weeks ago.

The Guardian reports that Reshma Begum survived for 17 days under the rubble of the Rana Plaza in Savar, near the capital Dhaka. She reportedly survived by eating food she found on her dead colleagues and drinking rainwater and a scarce supply of bottled water. Begum endured unimaginable horrors– the terrifying collapse, thick clouds of choking dust, the screams of her dying coworkers, then darkness, silence, oppressive heat and the horrid odor of decomposing bodies all around her.

There was the agony of hearing rescue workers nearby who came so close but did not hear her.

“I heard voices of the rescue workers. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods to attract their attention,” Begum said as she recovered in a local hospital. “No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I’d see the daylight again,” she told Somoy TV.

Then, at around 3 pm on Friday, came hope. Army Sergeant Abdur Razzaq heard a faint metallic tapping noise.

“I heard the sound and rushed towards the spot. I knelt down and heard a faint voice. ‘Sir, please help me,’ she cried,” Razzaq told the Guardian.

In what religious believers are calling a miracle, Begum was relatively unscathed considering the amount of time she spent in the hellish environment.

“It is incredible that someone could have survived in the wreckage 408 hours after the building came down,” Shah Jamal, an army officer, said. “Her will to live is amazing.”

All of the capital was glued to their televisions as Begum’s rescue unfolded live before their very eyes. The Associated Press reports it took about 40 minutes to extricate her, with rescue workers using hand-held tools to perform the delicate operation. When Begum was finally pulled out, a large crowd erupted in jubilant cheers as she was rushed to a waiting ambulance and off to hospital. Many prayed to Allah.

“God is amazing,” one Savar garment worker said. “…It’s a little happiness amid all the sorrows that we have been filled with in the last so many days.”

Many of Begum’s colleagues were not so lucky. The survivor said that three survivors in the space in which she was trapped had died. On Thursday, the death toll from the collapse topped 1,000, with more bodies still being pulled from the ruins.

According to the Guardian, numerous Western clothing retailers, including Italy’s Bennetton and Canada’s Joe Fresh, bought clothing made by workers in the collapsed factory. It has been reported that the building was constructed on swampy land, and that cracks had been discovered the day before the collapse but that bosses had threatened to dock workers’ pay if they left the premises.

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