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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid