Survival ‘miracle’ as rubble toll hits 1,000

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A seamstress buried in the wreckage of a collapsed garment factory building for more than two weeks was rescued yesterday, a miraculous moment set against a scene of horror, where the death toll shot past 1,000.

Reshma survived, in remarkably good shape, by eating dried food that was nearby and drinking spare amounts of water she had with her. She was discovered on the second floor of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where crews have been focused on recovering bodies, for much of the past two weeks.

“I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention,” she told TV from her hospital bed as doctors and nurses milled about, giving her saline and checking her condition.

“No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I’d see the daylight again,” she said.

“There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days. The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me,” she said.

Once Reshma finally got their attention, the crews ordered the cranes and bulldozers to stop work and used handsaws and welding and drilling equipment to cut through the iron rod and debris trapping her. They gave her water, oxygen and saline solution as they worked to free her.

When she was freed after 40 minutes, the crowd erupted in wild cheers. She was taken to a military hospital, but her rescuers said she was in surprisingly good condition and could even walk.

Reshma told her rescuers there had been three others with her. All died.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, called her in the hospital and the rescued woman began crying on the phone. She told Mr Hasina: “I am fine, please pray for me.”