worker“I will not work in a garment factory again.”
19-year-old Reshma Begum, who was rescued 17 days after she was trapped in the wreckage of the Bangladeshi garment factory she worked in.

“I heard her say, ‘I am alive! Please save me!’ ” said Miraj Hossain, a volunteer. “I gave her water. She was OK.’’

The nation, heartened by the miracle after so much misery caused by the disastrous collapse, watched on TV as she was pulled out to the sounds of cheers and fervent prayers, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.

From her hospital bed, Begum told Somoy TV that she had heard workers’ voices for the past several days and had been smacking “the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention.’’ But they didn’t hear.

buildingWhen the collapse began on April 24, she was working in a second-floor factory. She ran down the stairs to the basement and became trapped near a Muslim prayer room.  For a while, she couldn’t move because her long hair got ensnared in the debris. Grabbing some sharp objects, she managed to cut chunks of her hair in order to break free, according to Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy.

“There was some dried food around me,’’ she said. “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 told the TV station.

Others in her immediate vicinity did not make it. “Reshma told me there were three others with her. They died,’’ said Maj. Gen. Suhrawardy. “She did not see anybody else alive there.’’

Begum’s sister, Asma, who worked in at another garment factory, said she and their mother had been afraid Reshma was among the dead. “We got her back just when we had lost all our hope to find her alive,’’ she told Somoy TV.

Officials said yesterday that 1,045 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage.