Fire kills last survivor from Bangladesh building collapse
SAVAR, Bangladesh – Agence France-Presse
escue workers help to put out a fire which broke out in a garment factory building which collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 28. AP photoA fire broke out in the wreckage of a Bangladesh factory complex April 28 night killing the last known survivor from the building's collapse five days earlier, the national fire chief said.
Fire fighters and rescuers were seen weeping live on television following the death of the female garment worker, identified as Shahnaz, whose 110-hour battle for survival had touched the nation following its worst industrial disaster.
"The fire broke out as we were cutting a beam to bring out what we believe was the last remaining survivor from the collapsed building. We managed to douse it, but as we came back we saw her dead," Ahmed Ali told AFP.
"She was a brave lady and fought until the end. We worked for 10-11 hours today just to try to bring her out alive. We took the challenge but we lost." The rescue teams had earlier postponed a decision to clean up the debris with cranes and earth-moving equipment just to make sure it did not harm the woman's chance of survival.
Mother of a ten-year-old boy
Rescue workers said although she was weak, she was able to make feeble cries for help from underneath the debris on April 28 morning. Fire fighter Abul Khayer who spoke to throughout the operation identified her by her first name, Shahnaz, and said she was the mother of a ten-year-old boy.
"She clung on for the boy. At one stage we told her to remove her clothes, which would make the rescue easier. She told me you're my brother, please don't leave me alone" Khayer said.
"All these hours we kept talking to her. We gave her food, water, oxygen and saline and she hung on. And then this engineer came and we got this fire," he said.
After her death, the rescue teams abandoned their manual rescue work and began using their earth-moving equipment to lift slabs and reinforced concrete, the fire chief said.
The eight-storey building that housed five garment factories caved in on Wednesday, killing at least 381 people and trapping thousands others, most female garment workers, Dhaka police officer Liakot Hossain told AFP.
Some 2,500 people were rescued alive from the rubble, which included about 1,000 seriously injured workers many of whom had to have their limbs amputated to free them from the rubble. Police earlier arrested the owner of the building and three proprietors of export-oriented garment factories for forcing the workers to work in the building despite it developing visible cracks a day before the tragedy.