Published: Saturday, May 11, 2013

Miracle girl

Garment worker Reshma found alive under rubble on the 17th day of Rana Plaza rescue operation

Reshma being rescued 391 hours after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar yesterday. “It's good to see the light after so many days,” Reshma said in a feeble voice, trying to smile at the jubilant rescuers and onlookers. Photo: Star

Reshma being rescued 391 hours after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar yesterday. “It’s good to see the light after so many days,” Reshma said in a feeble voice, trying to smile at the jubilant rescuers and onlookers. Photo: Star

It was a bright, sunny Friday afternoon. Weary of the unrelenting hours of retrieving rotting bodies from under the rubble, the rescuers seemed a bit burdened.
Miracle girlAs they prepared to lift another big concrete slab of the first floor, a strong stench of corpses sickened the journalists standing a few yards away. Impatient, they asked the rescuers how long it would take to finish the job.
Herding the journalists, Major Moazzem Hossain asked them to follow him to the western side of the wreckage.
Standing there, a fatigued Abdur Razzak, an army warrant officer, just couldn’t believe what he saw next: a moving pipe, sticking out through a narrow hole of the first floor.
Awestruck, he screamed in joy: “Someone seems to be alive in there!”
All the weariness vanished and the rescuers raced to the point.
Miraculous as it may sound, removing the gravel they saw part of the face of a woman.
“Can you hear us? Are you okay? What’s your name?” shouted Hossain.
“Reshma,” responded a feeble voice. A little pause. “Please get me out of here. Please,” she then pleaded.
Miracle girlWhat could be a more gratifying moment than this for the rescuers who have been mingling with death since the country’s deadliest building collapse on April 24!
Telecast live on different television channels, the electrifying and miraculous moment swept through a nation depressed by the growing number of bodies being pulled out of the rubble of Rana Plaza that once used to be a nine-storey building.
Rattling sound of all the heavy machines stopped.
“Please pray for her,” said Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, general officer commanding of Bangladesh Army’s 9th infantry division, and all of those present there complied immediately.
Some couldn’t hold back tears of joy as no-one could be rescued alive from the wreckage since April 28 when garment worker Sadiq was last pulled out.
The rescuers left aside the heavy machines and were extra cautious, mindful of the tragedy centring the failed attempt to rescue Shaheena Akhter, a woman working on the building’s third floor, who died on April 29.
Making a big hole with light instruments like hand saw, hammer and drilling machine, the rescuers pulled her out around 4:30pm, after an hour’s painstaking operation.
Clad in a violet kamiz and pink scarf, Reshma, 20, tried to smile at the jubilant rescuers and journalists.
“It’s so good to be out in the sun again after so many days,” said the girl, back to life after dating with death for 17 days.
There was no sign of injuries in her body.
A military ambulance rushed through the cheering crowd, whisking her off to the Combined Military Hospital in Savar.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina first talked to Reshma over the phone and then met her at the CMH in the evening.
Postings kept pouring on social networking websites, hailing the rescue as the joyous moment united a nation gloomy over the collapse, subsequent political violence and a fresh fire incident at a garment unit in the capital.
At the CMH where Reshma was being treated under intensive care, doctors were satisfied with her condition.
“Her breathing is normal, her heart is responding as it should and her brain is functioning well,” said Dr Hasan Murshed.
Happy at the rescue of Reshma, three families rushed to the CMH with photographs.
Of the three claimants, Asma was carrying the photo of Reshma, who used to work on the second floor of Rana Plaza.
“We almost lost our hope to get her back alive,” said Asma, Reshma’s sister.
Herself a garment worker, Asma used to live with Reshma, a divorcee, at a rented house at Savar Bazar bus stand. They are originally from Ghoraghat upazila of Dinajpur.
As Asma was talking to journalists at Munshi Abdur Rouf Gate, a military officer approached her, saying: “Your sister wants to talk to you.”
What could be a call sweeter than this! She wiped her tears and got on the army vehicle.

  • Reaz Hassan

    Rising from the ashes of Phoenix, Reshma brought home to countless millions a message of hope and rejuvenation and of national unity. We have seen a well coordinated rescue operation which validated our claim to be one of the best disaster management countries in the world.

    Congratulations to all.

  • Ash C.

    Reshma, we thank the Almighty for returning you
    back to us from the basement mosque of the collapsed 9 storied Rana Plaza after
    long 17 days. Words fail to describe how it feels to see one lone survivor
    amongst over a thousand plus dead so far recovered. The whole country rejoice at
    your miraculous survival & salute you at your will to survive lying buried
    under tons & tons of rubble. Only a day before we rejoiced & distributed
    sweets at the death sentence of an accused of war crime. And until about 3
    days ago starting from February 2013 (pointless to go further beyond), we killed
    hundreds & hundreds of our own people with our own hands without a qualm.
    Many, many grieved at the loss of their near & dear ones while the stupefied
    nation stood still while some others rejoiced at the jobs well done! What a
    strange nation we are, aren’t we? And yet we’re a people
    of indomitable spirit!

  • Sharukh Khan

    Let us create a “Reshma Fund” so that she does not need to work rest of her life under this wretched condition. If people are really sympathetic they should make all efforts to rehabilitate her with dignity and respect that she deserves.