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Woman Found Alive After 17 Days In Rubble Of Collapsed Building In Bangladesh
May 10, 2013
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More than two weeks after that tragic building collapse in Bangladesh, there has finally been an uplifting moment.

Today, rescuers found a woman alive in the debris - 17 days after the disaster happened.

Her name is Reshma, a seamstress reportedly from northern Bangladesh. Reports say she looked to be about 20 years old and apparently has a daughter.

She was found near a Muslim prayer room in the basement of the eight-storey building, and survived on dried food and bottled water, in temperatures as high as 30C.

"I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention," she said from her hospital bed.

"No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again."

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"There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days. The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me," she told a Bangladesh TV news channel.

Rescuers finally heard her after she started banging a steel pipe. "I'm alive! Please rescue me," she yelled according to one rescuer.

"I told her, mother don't be afraid, we are here to rescue you," said Lt. Col. Moazzem Hossain, an army official at the scene.

Officials ordered all cranes and bulldozers to stop. They could see a woman waving her hand, and she shouted "I'm still here" and told them her name.

Rescuers used handsaws and welding and drilling equipment to free her - giving her water, oxygen and saline as they worked.

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After about 40 minutes to an hour, they got her out and Reshma was taken to a military hospital, but she is said to be in surprisingly good condition. According to one rescuer, she was actually well enough to walk.

"She was fine, no injuries. She was just trapped. The space was wide," said Lt. Col. Moyeen, another army official.

Reshma said she was working in a factory on the second floor when the building started crumbling around her. She ran down a stairwell to the basement, where she ended up trapped.

Reshma's sister, Asma, said she and her mother started losing hope as workers pulled more and more bodies from the scene.

"We got her back just when we had lost all our hope to find her alive," she told a Bangladesh news channel. "God is so merciful."

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When rescuers were working to free Reshma, hundreds of people at the site praying for her survival.

"Allah, you are the greatest, you can do anything. Please allow us all to rescue the survivor just found," said a man on a loudspeaker. "We seek apology for our sins. Please pardon us, pardon the person found alive."

More than 2,500 people were rescued shortly after the disaster. Since then, workers have recovered more than 1,000 bodies from the scene.

The owners of the building and the factories are under investigation for allegedly ordering workers to go inside on the day of the collapse, even though cracks were found in the structure the day before.

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