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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid