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Ear to the Ground

Woman Found Alive in Garment Factory Rubble

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Posted on May 10, 2013
AP/Wong Maye-E

Rescue workers toil in the rubble of the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory, which collapsed April 24.

A seamstress at the Bangladeshi factory that collapsed 17 days ago, killing more than 1,000 people in one of the world’s worst cases of industrial negligence, was rescued from the wreckage Friday.

Relatives and emergency workers had given up hope of finding anyone alive. But Friday, workers heard a faint metallic tapping as bulldozers steadily removed more debris. That was the sound of Reshma Begum hitting concrete with a pipe.

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

Begum survived by breathing through a pipe from inside the wreckage and scavenging food from the bags of dead colleagues and drinking rainwater. She had sustained no major injury. Workers used handsaws to cut her free.

As she was pulled from the rubble, crowds at the site broke into cheers of “God is great!” and wiped away tears. A woman at the scene said Begum was her niece.

Begum’s was a fortunate case. An earlier attempt to rescue a surviving woman more than 100 hours after the collapse ended in further tragedy when sparks from a saw ignited a fire, killing her and fatally burning a rescue worker.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the disaster, including the owner of Rana Plaza and owners of the factories it housed.

The disaster has sparked widespread criticism of the international retailers supplied by businesses in Rana Plaza.

The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy construction materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.

Primark and its Canadian counterpart Loblaw have announced they will compensate the victims of the disaster, the world’s worst industrial accident since the Bhopal gas leak in India in 1984.

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