Reshma Begum: Miracle Survivor Of the Bangladesh Factory Disaster That Killed 1,000 People

A woman was rescued after being trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Bangladesh for 408 hours.

Reshma Begum is a seamstress that fought for her survival in a basement prayer room for over two weeks after the building she worked at collapsed, which has since left a death toll of over 1,000. As she recovers in a nearby hospital, she recalls her story and her determination to stay alive. Hearing her story gives new meaning to the value of life. 

On April 24, an industrial building on the outskirts of Bangladesh fell to the ground. As crews have scrambled to rescue as many as possible, the death toll has rapidly risen to over 1,000 and has left over 2,500 people injured. As work crews were preparing to bulldoze away the final wreckage, Begum used a steel rod to bang on a pipe to get their attention. Remarkably she did, and workers assembled using handsaws to get to her. After a nearly 40 minute ordeal, Begum was finally rescued and immediately brought to the hospital.

Begum was trapped in the basement of the building, enduring temperatures above 90 degrees. Fortunately she had a few water bottles to spare and she describes looking for biscuits in the rucksacks of her departed coworkers. Begum spoke from her hospital bed as she recalls being rescued.

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

Despite being severely dehydrated and emotionally exhausted, Begum was found in remarkably stable condition for all that she endured. Since the initial collapse on April 24, the last survivor that was rescued in the wreckage was on April 28. However through an admirable amount of courage and determination, Begum prevailed. Hearing this dramatic story of survival certainly puts things into perspective. Begum’s actions have awarded her with being the face of the phrase “never give up”.

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Shawna Gillen

Shawna is currently studying Political Science and Psychology at Marist College. She has a passion for politics and is an aspiring lawyer. In her spare time she likes to play club women's rugby, and contributes as the Co-News Editor for Marist's student newspaper.

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