Bangladeshi doctors treating a “miracle” survivor pulled from ruins of a collapsed building after 17 days said yesterday she was doing “great” and had been reunited with her family.
Reshma, 18, a seamstress dug out from the rubble of the garment factory complex on Friday, “never gave up hope” she would be rescued from the ruins of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, army doctor Fakrul Islam told reporters.
“She’s doing great,” he said after speaking to her yesterday morning, adding she was suffering from malnutrition as she had survived on just “four pieces of biscuits.”
“She’s eating food and fruit. All her vital organs are okay,” Islam said, as the death toll from the disaster reached 1,084.
Reshma had a “very good sleep and was reunited with her family including her mother, brother and sister,” army captain Ibrahimul Islam told reporters.
He said Reshma told him she found the biscuits and water in an air pocket she reached after the April 24 cave-in and added she might regain more memories as her condition improves.
“Only then we can get a clear picture of how she survived miraculously for 17 days under such hot, humid conditions,” he said.
Rescuers found her hours after officials announced the death toll had surged past the 1,000 mark and they had long abandoned hope of locating more survivors.
They were stunned to hear a woman’s voice calling for help, before managing to free her in a 45-minute operation aired live on television and watched by crowds at the scene who were asked by clerics to pray for her rescue.
Cries of “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” — rang out as she was pulled from the wreckage.
After emerging, Reshma managed a weak smile to onlookers, before being whisked to a waiting ambulance and away from the ruined Rana Plaza complex on Dhaka’s outskirts.
“I called, but nobody heard me. I heard noises, but nobody listened to me,” she told Somoy TV later in an interview.
Her family, from a remote northern village, was overjoyed at her survival, calling it a “miracle.”
“We had lost all hope of finding her alive. We visited every hospital ... the mortuaries and checked every dead body,” Reshma’s brother, Zahidul Islam, told reporters.
Bangladesh’s fire service chief Ahmed Ali told reporters Reshma was found between a beam and column in the wreckage of the nine-story complex.
“We first saw a pipe moving. We removed some gravel and concrete. We found her standing,” said Major Moazzem, who goes by one name.
Jamil Ahmed, another rescuer, said bulldozers turning over rubble in the quest to recover bodies were stopped as soon as rescuers realized Reshma was alive.
“She told us: ‘My name is Reshma, please save me, please save me brother,’” he said. “Major Moazzem slipped into the hole and took her into his arms and then we pulled her out.”
Reshma’s survival is one of the most remarkable of recent years, though not a record.
In Pakistan, on Dec. 12, 2005, a 40-year-old woman was rescued from the ruins of her house in Kashmir two months after a quake. A 27-year-old man spent 27 days buried under the rubble of the Haitian earthquake in 2010.
The rescue of Reshma has brought “renewed vigor” to the recovery efforts, army rescue officer Major Delwar Hossain told reporters. “We’ve got new spirit.”