‘Please rescue me:’ Bangladesh rescuers pull survivor 17 days after building collapse

Posted at 9:53 AM, May 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-10 10:08:29-04

Cleanup effort at Bangledeshi building collapse site far from overDhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) — For many days, rescue workers plowing through the site of last month’s building collapse in Bangladesh had the grim task of pulling out body after body.

On Friday, as the recovery operation wound down, they found a survivor. Crews digging through the rubble heard a woman’s voice pleading for help.

“I’m alive,” she said, according to Capt. Ibrahim Islam, a Bangladeshi military official outside the site of the recovery operation. “Please rescue me.”

They extracted the woman in an hourlong operation, an army official said.

Crowds converged to watch and pray at the grim site as she chatted with rescuers who rushed her to a hospital.

Her name is Reshma. And she’s one of the more than 2,400 people pulled out of the rubble alive.

The discovery comes more than two weeks after a building in a Bangladesh complex, housing factories full of garment workers, caved in, South Asia’s deadliest industrial disaster.

Rescue and recovery workers searched through the nine-story building’s tangled wreckage in Savar, a suburb of the capital, Dhaka. During the first several days of dangerous and painstaking work, crews rescued a couple thousand people.

But since then, they haven’t found any more survivors — until Friday when Reshma was spotted.

As more bodies were recovered Friday, the total number of people confirmed dead rose to 1,039, said Maj. Zihadul Islam, a fire service official.

The past 11 days have focused on the grim task of retrieving dead bodies still buried in the heap of broken concrete, many of them so severely decomposed that authorities struggle to identify them.

“We are near the end,” Ibrahim Islam said.

The owners of the building and the factories are under investigation over accusations they ordered workers to enter the premises on the day of the collapse despite cracks in the structure the day before.