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Bangladesh survivor leaves hospital

06 June 2013, 09:00

Savar - A Bangladeshi seamstress trapped in the rubble for 17 days after the country's garment factory disaster in April emerged from hospital on Thursday, saying she felt "great" and was looking forward to a new job at a luxury hotel.

Reshma, aged 18, who became a national heroine after the tragedy which claimed more than 1 100 lives, was in good spirits and looked healthy at a ceremony at the military facility where she was admitted on 10 May.

"I feel great now. I am recovered mentally and physically," she said, smiling.

But after nearly a month of treatment, initially in intensive care, she admitted she was still troubled by nightmares about her ordeal beneath the wreckage of the collapsed Rana Plaza building.

"I still get frightened in the night," she told reporters, dressed in a peacock green dress and headscarf.

"Whenever I think of those days I feel bad and frightened. I have forgotten most of what I did under the rubble."

Job offers

The teenager, who uses only one name, drank rainwater and foraged food from co-workers' lunch boxes to survive after her nine-storey workplace collapsed on 24 April.

Two days after her rescue, she said she would never return to the accident-prone Bangladesh garment sector, the world's second biggest, worth $20bn a year.

Reshma, from a remote village in the western border district of Dinajpurhad, began work in the building just 22 days before it fell down. She was being paid a monthly salary of $60.

She has since been offered jobs in various hotels and charities, but decided to take up an opportunity at the luxury Westin Hotel in the capital Dhaka.

"I never thought that I would get my life back again when I was trapped under the rubble," she told the packed press conference in Savar, the Dhaka suburb where the disaster took place.

Azim Shah, general manager of the Hotel Westin, told reporters he was proud Reshma was joining his team.


"We're sure this young girl will be exceptional in her new job," he said.

At the time of the collapse more than 3 000 garment workers were on shift at the complex housing five factories, where they made clothing for Western retailers including Italy's Benetton and Britain's Primark.

They were ordered back to their production lines even as cracks developed on the outside of the complex.

The industry has since promised to clean up its act. Most major European buyers have signed up to a new accord promising better working conditions, as well as fire and building inspections.

On Wednesday hundreds of employees working in a factory making sweaters for Western brands fell ill after drinking suspected contaminated water at their workplace.

Earlier in the day, police had fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a protest by the families of missing garment workers whose bodies have not been found at the site of the factory.

The relatives were demanding that authorities publish a full list of missing workers to allow families to claim compensation.



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