‘I did not fear. I never thought I could survive,’ says woman rescued after 17 days

Reshma Begum survived on biscuits and water. Picture: Getty
Reshma Begum survived on biscuits and water. Picture: Getty
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THE 19-year-old seamstress who survived on biscuits and water for 17 days after the factory collapsed said she expected to die after becoming trapped under the rubble.

Reshma Begum was hailed a miracle when she was pulled alive from the wreckage of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building on Friday.

Rescue workers were drawn to the wide pocket under the rubble where she had taken refuge when they heard her banging on a pipe.

Ms Begum was brought in a wheelchair to speak to journalists outside her room in a military hospital. She suffered a head injury in the disaster, and part of her head was covered with a violet shawl.

Ms Begum reportedly missed breakfast and bought four packets of biscuits, which she later rationed, saving her life.

She said that on the morning of the collapse, she had heard there were cracks in the building and saw co-workers, mainly men, refusing to enter. The managers reassured them: “There is no problem. You do your work,” she said.

Soon after, the building crashed down around her.

Ms Begum, who earned 4,700 takas (£40) a month, said she had become trapped under the building.

“After much time I regained my senses and heard several voices [of other victims] around me, who cried out and said, Please give me water. I replied, Where shall I get water? I could not see anything as it was dark everywhere,” Ms Begum said.

“Another person, a man, asked for water. I could not help him. He screamed, Save me, but he died. ”

She said she eventually found two bottles of water and rationed her biscuits. “After that, there was nothing to eat.”

“I did not fear. I don’t know where I got so much mental strength. I never thought that I could survive. It is the almighty Allah who saved me,” said Ms Begum. “I never thought of coming back alive.”

Brigadier General Ashfaq, a psychiatrist who uses only one name, said Ms Begum was puzzled and confused when she was rescued. “Now she is doing fine, better.”

Ms Begum said she would not go back to factory work. “I will not work in a garment factory again,” she said.