News / Asia

Woman Rescued From Bangladesh Disaster Rubble

Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of a collapsed building in Savar on May 10, 2013.
Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of a collapsed building in Savar on May 10, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
Emergency workers in Bangladesh have rescued a woman who survived 17 days buried in the rubble of a collapsed garment factory complex, as the death toll from the disaster rose to more than 1,000.

Crowds erupted into cheers after the woman, Reshma Begum, was pulled from the ruins Friday.

She managed to survive by taking sips from bottles of water buried with her. Begum, 19, said from her hospital bed that she drank only a small quantity'' to save water

Rescue worker Mohammad Rubel Rana described the scene. "When I was cutting iron rods suddenly I found a silver colored stick just moving from a hole and I looked through and I saw someone calling 'please save me'. Then instantly I called the army and fire fighters and said please look I heard a sound. Then they saw her and confirmed that there was a woman. They rescued her and sent her to hospital,'' he said.

Emergency workers had earlier given up hope that they would find any more survivors from the accident near Dhaka.

  • A man walks at the site where a garment factory building collapsed on April 24 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 13, 2013.
  • Reshma Begum, center, the 19-year-old seamstress who spent 17 days trapped in the rubble of a collapsed factory building talks to the media at a hospital in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 13, 2013.
  • Rescuers carry a survivor pulled out from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Saver, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 10, 2013.
  • People work in the rubble of a collapsed garment factory in Savar near Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 10, 2013.
  • Rescuers carry the body of a victim from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, May 7, 2013.
  • A woman cries after she identified her relative's body that was recovered from the rubble of a collapsed garment factory building, Savar, Bangladesh, May 3, 2013.
  • The remaining standing part of the collapsed Rana Plaza building collapses during a rescue operation by the army in Savar, Bangladesh, May 2, 2013.
  • Relatives mourn as they look for garment workers, missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 2, 2013.
  • Workers dig mass graves during a burial of unidentified garment workers, who died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 1, 2013.
  • A boy covers his nose with a cloth as people gather in front of mass graves during the burial of unidentified garment workers, who died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, May 1, 2013.
  • A woman waits for news of her relative, a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of Rana Plaza building, in front of missing people posters in Savar, Bangladesh, April 30, 2013.
  • Firefighters and army personnel are blanketed in thick dust after part of the garment factory building collapses after being dislodged as part of the clearing process in Savar, near Dhaka, April 29, 2013.
  • Crowds gather at the collapsed Rana Plaza building as people rescue garment workers trapped in the rubble, Savar, Bangladesh, April 24, 2013.

Country's Worst Industrial Accident

The collapse of the Rana Plaza Building - eight-stories high and home to five garment factories is Bangladesh's worst industrial accident. When it buckled more than two weeks ago, it crushed workers under a mass of concrete and bricks, making it difficult to identify many of them.

While the focus has remained on the Rana collapse, a second accident took place at another garment factory. A fire engulfed the lower floors of an 11-story factory making sweaters after it had shut Wednesday evening. The owner and several other people died in the blaze.

Officials said the building where the latest accident occurred did conform to building codes. Both accidents have further heightened concerns of safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories, which make apparel for many Western brands.

In recent days, the government has intensified inspections of buildings and asked 18 garment factories to shut down for failing to meet work and safety standards.

Calls for Better Working Conditions
 
Kalpona Akter, with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, has been fighting for better conditions for the 3.6 million Bangladeshis employed in the garment industry. She hopes that this time the government is serious about putting in place better workplace inspection mechanisms.   
 
“After every fire accident or every collapse or every industrial accident, the government really comes with so many fake commitments, but this time we really want to see them to move," she said. "It is more than high time for them to act now. These all deaths are preventable.”

With the accident making news across the world, the government and garment companies are under pressure to address the problems plaguing Bangladesh’s biggest manufacturing industry. Besides safety issues, they also include concerns over poor wages and labor rights.       
 
Mustafizur Rahman with the independent Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka said it is imperative for the government to revamp the industry.
 
“Brand Bangladesh of course has taken a hit. But this time around there are concerted efforts to address many of the concerns…..workers safety, workers rights, building construction, all these things are now coming to the fore," said Rahman. "Medium to long term impact will depend on what homework we are doing and whether we are doing it adequately. We are hoping that this time around lessons will be learnt.”

The government has blamed the Rana Plaza collapse on violation of building codes and use of shoddy construction materials. A preliminary inquiry said vibrations from four huge generators triggered the collapse.

Western Retailers Criticized
 
The accident has prompted some criticism of Western retailers who source their clothes in Bangladesh. Walt Disney Company announced a week ago that it would pull out of five developing countries including Bangladesh, in part because of fatal accidents at factories.  
 
However, there have been many calls asking Western retailers to take on a bigger role in improving working conditions in the industry instead of abandoning it.
 
Labor activist Akter, backs those voices. He said, "These days we are calling them [Western retailers] to sign legally binding fire and building safety agreements which ensure them to pay to do necessary intervention and repair for their sourcing factories and also it ensures that workers would have their voice in the improving process, workers should themselves tell them that, yes, the factory they are working on, it is safe for them.”
 
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest apparel supplier and the $20 billion garment industry is its biggest foreign exchange earner.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Okon James from: Calabar,Nigeria
May 10, 2013 6:44 PM
This is a Miracle,for Her to Survived this long She is Blessed,i felt so saded to hear that heavy generators our install in a stories building,this alone can vibrate the foundations of the building,please this system must change if more disasters is not expected soon than later.


by: Sirajul Islam from: Dhaka, Bangladesh
May 10, 2013 1:30 PM
This is incredible and the chances were very slim that anyone could survive that long. It's because Reshma had gotten trapped near where a water source was in reach and some food. We hope she survives to tell us how they did get through this ordeal. Everybody’s heart goes out to these rural Bangladeshi women, who, for a better life, came out of rural homes in flocks to work in the garments factories located in the cities or suburbs.

They not only offsetting their own poverty but supporting a $20 billion industry in Bangladesh, earning foreign currency for the country risking their lives at the mercy of the traders’ 'only-profit motto'. It’s the time now for ‘engagement’ of all concerned. Yes, I mean, everybody concerned should ensure, by their close-quarter engagement, that workers’ rights and the safety codes aren’t violated, and their wage increased to a ‘just wage’ from the existing 2-cents per piece for a $20 apparel.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school

All About America

AppleAndroid