Woman rescued from Bangladesh rubble 17 days after building collapse

Friday 10 May 2013 23.36
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Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of the collapsed building in Savar
Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma from the rubble of the collapsed building in Savar
Officials have set the current death toll from a garment factory building collapse at 1,038
Officials have set the current death toll from a garment factory building collapse at 1,038

A woman has been rescued after spending 17 days trapped under the rubble of a Bangladesh factory building that collapsed on 24 April.

Bangladeshi television channels broadcast live footage of emergency service workers pulling the woman from the collapsed building, as onlookers burst into cheers.

The woman, identified by Bangladeshi media only as Reshma, was shown being carried on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance as a rescue worker applied an oxygen mask to her face.

More than 2,500 people were rescued in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

However, no survivors had been found in the wreckage since the first few days after the collapse.

Officials said 1,038 bodies had been recovered as of today from the rubble of the fallen building, which had housed five garment factories employing thousands of workers.

The disaster is believed to have been triggered when generators were started up during a blackout.

It has put the spotlight on western retailers who use the impoverished South Asian nation as a source of cheap goods.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the disaster, including the building's owner and bosses of the factories it housed.

Hundreds of relatives are still gathered at the site, some holding up photographs of family members.

Rescue workers have found it increasingly difficult to identify decomposing bodies and are using ID cards found on them or even their mobile phones to do so.

"A total of 156 unidentified victims have been buried," said Dhaka District Administrator Mohammad Yousuf Harun, adding that DNA samples taken from the bodies had been preserved so tests could be done if relatives come forward later.

The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy construction materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.

Bangladesh's garment industry, which accounts for 80% of the country's exports, has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.

They include a fire that killed eight people yesterday in the Mirpur industrial district, at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group.

Keywords: bangladesh