Survivor Found in Collapsed Bangladesh Building After 17 Days

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". We begin today's program with a moment of happiness in what has been a heartbreaking story.

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Werman: Earlier today, rescuers in Bangladesh pulled a young woman from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza in the capital Dhaka. She had been buried alive for seventeen days ever since the eight-story building came crashing down on April 24th. The death toll from the disaster is still rising. More than a thousand people are now confirmed dead, most of them low-paid garment industry workers, so today's rescue came as a welcome surprise to everyone at the site. BBC cameraman and producer Salman Saeed was at the scene working when he heard a commotion.

Salman Saeed: Then all of a sudden when we were at spot, everyone was like running here and there and I could see the rescue workers cheering up and they were saying like, "We found somebody alive." I spoke to one of the rescue workers and he was so excited. He was saying, "Yes, it's a miracle that we have found a girl." Her name was Reshma. She looked around like in her late teens and she was very exhausted when she was coming out.

Werman: What were you able to see?

Saeed: I was just seeing army officials, the fire brigade, and the rescue people. They were all shouting to each that, "We need oxygen. We need to give her some juice, some food." and they were like putting these bottles of juices and water bottles inside. They were trying to comfort the girl until they could bring her out. And it was like a twenty, thirty minute operation.

Werman: Can you tell us how she was able to survive?

Saeed: She was actually surviving with the food that was left from her colleagues underneath the rubble.

Werman: This was an eight-story building, Rana Plaza. Do you know what floor she was working on when the building collapsed?

Saeed: I heard she was on the second floor.

Werman: And physically how did she seem? How did she appear?

Saeed: When she was coming out I saw like there was an oxygen mask in her face. The army officials were trying to give water. She was so exhausted and I could see that her body was, there was not much flesh, and she was like exhaust, crying. People were all trying to give her comfort. And then immediately the rescue workers took her in the ambulance and took her to the nearest military hospital. And everyone, that moment was, people were praying, they were saying, "Allah, Allah," and "Allahu Akbar" and everyone was so happy and they were praying so that she can come out alive 'cuz there was another incident, there was a survivor earlier and they were trying to bring her out alive, but they could not. But this time when they could bring this girl out in a safe condition every people out there were so happy.

Werman: I mean so many people overjoyed by this news. It is one ray of light in what has been such a horrific time. At this point over a thousand people have died in the building collapse. What is the latest on the owner of this building?

Saeed: The owner is still under the police custody and he was taken into remand and there was a case filed against him. He's still in the police custody.

Werman: And what's the latest on how the Bangladeshi government, what they're doing to protect workers in the garment industry?

Saeed: They have recently shut down some illegal factories after there was another fire incident that took place the day before yesterday evening where for the first time a factory owner died inside a factory.

Werman: How much is the public in Bangladesh pushing the government to do more? Because I mean it's just so common. I mean you cite this fire.

Saeed: People are worried because the garment industry for Bangladeshi people is very important. It's important for the economy of the country. But people are realizing now that safety measures need to be taken and now, recently there was some incidents where workers didn't want to work in some factories where there was some cracks on the wall and all those things.

Werman: Salman Saeed, producer with the BBC in Bangladesh who was at the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza today when Reshma, one of the survivors, came out. Thank you very much, Salman.

Saeed: Thank you.