Survivor rescued from rubble 16 days after Bangladesh factory collapse!
A woman who survived more than 16 days in the rubble of a collapsed factory building in Bangladesh was rescued on Friday.
By Ian Johnston and Sohel Uddin, NBC News
A survivor was pulled alive from the ruins of an eight-story factory in Bangladesh on Friday, more than 16 days after it collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people.
Authorities in Bangladesh are reporting they found a woman alive in the rubble of a devastating factory roof collapse more than two weeks after the disaster. The death toll of the accident has now soared past 1,000 with still more bodies to be recovered. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.
The woman was found trapped in the remains of the building and given water and food as rescuers tried to reach her. Rescuers stopped using heavy machinery on the site during the delicate operation, according to Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper.
Local television then showed a woman in a purple dress being freed from the rubble about 391 hours after the collapse. Bangladesh's army spokesman Shahinul Islam told Reuters that the woman had been "rescued and taken to a military hospital."
The woman was named as Reshma Begum, who is married with a young son, from the Dinajpur area by a senior official involved in the rescue operation, who added she was found in a mosque in the building’s basement. She was first spotted by a 15-year-old volunteer helping at the site called Monowar, the official said.
The official said she was dehydrated but able to walk.
Moazzem Hossain, an army major, also told the Star that she was in "good health."
The paper said the first sign there was a survivor came when a rescuer heard groans coming from the basement at 3:15 p.m. local time on Friday (5:15 a.m. ET). She was freed just over an hour later.
Bangladesh’s Independent newspaper quoted a rescuer who told local television that "as we were clearing rubble, we called out if anyone was alive."
"Then we heard her saying, 'please save me, please save me.' Since then she has been talking to us."
An official told the paper that she may have drunk water pumped into the building. A fire that broke out after the collapse was thought to have killed anyone else inside.
The factory building -- once eight-stories high -- is now almost at ground level.
"She has been located in a gap between a beam and a column ... She may have reserves of water or have drunk some of the water that we've pumped into the building," fire service chief Ahmed Ali told the Independent as the rescuers sought to free the woman.
Ray Gray, who spent 22 years as a rescuer at most of the world’s major earthquakes, said it was “incredible” that she was still alive after more than 16 days.
“She’s a very, very lucky lady,” he said. “It’s certainly the longest I’ve heard of.”
Gray, who recently retired from working with the Scotland-based International Rescue Corps, said she must have had access to water as without it most people would be dead within a week.
She would also have needed enough room to breathe, but could have gone without food, he said. Gray added that “if she’s walking, I guess she had access to some kind of sustenance.”
He said the longest rescue he was involved in personally was of a woman in the city of Duzce, Turkey, who was trapped for four or five days after an earthquake in 1999. A closet fell on top of her and protected her from her house, which collapsed in the quake. She survived despite having no water or food.
The April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza complex, which is about 20 miles northwest of Dhaka, was the world's worst industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, Reuters reported.
A spokesman at the army control room in charge of the operation to remove the rubble told the news service on Friday that the number of people confirmed to have been killed had reached 1,038. Roughly 2,500 people were rescued.
The disaster, believed to have been triggered when generators were started up during a blackout, has put the spotlight on Western retailers who use the impoverished South Asian nation as a source of cheap goods.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.