Seamstress survived on biscuit pieces for 17 days

Reshma Begum, 19, said she crawled through the collapsed building searching for food and water. Photo / AP
Reshma Begum, 19, said she crawled through the collapsed building searching for food and water. Photo / AP

The 19-year-old seamstress who was rescued unhurt after 17 days trapped in the rubble of the collapsed Dhaka garment factory claims she survived on only four biscuits.

Reshma Begum's rescue has been hailed as a miracle after she was pulled from the ruins of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in the Bangladeshi capital on Friday without any cuts or wounds and dressed in a pristine mauve salwar kameez and pink scarf.

She was found when a rescue worker called out for any survivors before giving the go-ahead for heavy machinery to break up a concrete floor. She shouted "save me" and was pulled from the rubble minutes later.

On the day in which the search for survivors was called off - with the death toll standing at 1127 - Begum said she would never work in a garment factory again, as she told a press conference in her hospital's lobby about her ordeal.

She said the second-floor factory in which she worked, which produced clothes for the British chain Primark, collapsed to the first floor. When hunger became intense, she crawled around looking for food. "I tried to find a path to get out of the debris but could not find anything. During my searching I just found four pieces of biscuits. I ate those. I also found water and I drank it," she said.

She said she could not explain how she had survived for so long and on so little in temperatures of up to 35C and said she could only thank Allah.

When the second floor collapsed, she had been with three colleagues who had died. "I cannot say what happened next. I got a pain on the head. I cannot remember all I saw. Those who were along with me, they died. They shouted for help but I couldn't do anything for them."

On the day of her rescue, she had been lying in a small space when she saw light and heard voices. Despite her desperation, she was anxious to change out of her shredded clothes. A rescuer dropped down a torch, she said, to help her find another outfit. "My dress was torn," she explained.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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