Reshma Begum is rescued from the rubble of the Rana Plaza
building 17 days after the building collapsed in Savar,
A young Bangladeshi woman who spent 17 days buried alive
under a collapsed garments factory was rescued after astonished
workmen heard a voice calling "save me, save me" from the
Pale, drawn but seemingly unhurt, Reshma Begum was cut from
the ruins and hoisted on to a stretcher to wild cheers in
scenes that captivated a nation which had long given up hope
of finding any more survivors.
When the eight-storey building collapsed on April 24, Begum
was trapped in a lightless, cell-like nook - alone, but
alive. She managed to survive by taking sips from bottles of
water buried with her.
"To save water I used to drink only a small quantity," Begum,
19, told Somoy television from her hospital bed.
The 45-minute rescue was broadcast live on television.
Cameras captured hope lighting up the faces of rescue workers
peering into the hole, before Begum was carried out.
For a moment she was shown with her head lolling to the side,
as if unconscious. Emergency workers placed an oxygen mask on
her face and loaded her into an ambulance that sped away with
its doors open.
Hours earlier, crews had pulled the 1,000th dead body from
By the end of the day, a spokesman at the army control room
coordinating the operation said the number of people
confirmed to have been killed had reached 1,050. It was the
world's worst industrial accident since Bhopal in India in
Major Moazzem Hossain said Begum had been discovered by
chance after army engineers searching for more bodies began
cutting through concrete beams, inadvertently allowing a ray
of sunlight to pour into the space where she had been stuck.
Begum began waving an aluminium curtain rail through the gap
to attract attention and cried out "Save me! Save me!".
"We told her the whole country is with you, we will never
leave this place until we rescue you," Hossain told Reuters.
"How can she have survived for 17 days? It must have been a
Mohammad Rubel Rana, a workman who had been cutting iron rods
at the site said he had alerted rescue crews after hearing
"I heard a faint voice saying 'Save me, Save me'," Rana told
Reuters television. "She was given water, biscuits and
A doctor at the Combined Military Hospital in Savar where
Begum was treated told reporters she was stable but needed
Good news has been in short supply in Bangladesh, which is
simultaneously reeling from the aftermath of the disaster and
its worst bout of violent since independence in 1971 ahead of
elections due early next year.
A series of deadly incidents at factories has focused global
attention on safety standards in Bangladesh's booming garment
industry. Eight people were killed in a fire at a factory
this week, which an industry association said on Friday may
have been started deliberately.
About 2,500 people were rescued from Rana Plaza, in the
industrial suburb of Savar, 20 miles (30 km) northwest of
Dhaka, including many injured, but there is no official
estimate of the numbers still missing.
The disaster, believed to have been triggered when generators
were started up during a blackout, has put the spotlight on
Western retailers who use the impoverished South Asian nation
as a source of cheap goods.
Nine people have been arrested in connection with the
disaster, including the building's owner and bosses of the
factories it housed.