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Old 22-07-14, 21:27   #1
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Asia Girl Forced to Amputate Own ARM to Escape from Sweatshop

'He said "I'm Giving you a Saw - You'll Have to Do It Yourself"':
Woman Reveals How She was Forced to Amputate her Own ARM to Escape from the Rubble of Sweatshop

  • Rojina Begum, from Dhaka in Bangladesh, was trapped in Rana Plaza
  • Building, which contained several garment factories, collapsed last April
  • Made clothes for Primark, Matalan and Bonmarche among many others
  • 1,129 people were killed in the disaster while 2,515 workers were injured
  • Ms Begum was trapped beneath the rubble for three days
  • Was forced to cut off her own arm to escape and has had little help since

For Rojina Begum, a former garment worker from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, the nightmares continue a year after she and more than 3,000 others were trapped in the rubble of Rana Plaza.
Although she survived, 1,129 people were killed, among them her younger sister, whose body was so badly damaged, it had to be identified using DNA testing.
A year on from the disaster, Ms Begum, who lost an arm in the collapse, says not enough is being done to help survivors with many, herself among them, left to fend for themselves.

Traumatised: Rojina Begum was trapped beneath rubble for three days and had to amputate her arm to escape

'I donít know what happened to my sister,' adds Ms Begum. 'We did not get her dead body. We found her grave later, from a DNA sample.'

Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building that housed five factories making clothes for Primark, Bonmarche and Matalan among others, collapsed on the morning of the 24th April 2013.

Despite having planning permission for just five floors, owner Sohel Rana managed to persuade authorities to turn a blind eye to a further three, which like the rest of the building, had been put up as cheaply and quickly as possible.

Although a crack in a pillar had been spotted the day before, owner Sohel Rana insisted that the building was safe and instructed workers to return on the 24th.
By the time the building collapsed at 8.45am, the huge tower block was crammed with workers, among them Ms Begum and her sister.

'I woke up that day and cooked,' remembers Ms Begum. 'Then I had breakfast. I fed my daughter, then sent her to school. Then I prepared lunch. I thought Iíd have it after work.'

Disaster: A rescue worker stands in front of the remains of Rana Plaza in Savar, 30km from capital Dhaka

Rescue: The last survivor was pulled out of the rubble 17 days after the building collapsed

When she arrived at Rana Plaza, it was to find the building surrounded by worried workers, spooked by the previous night's TV reports of a crack in the infrastructure.
Under the threat of wage cuts, Ms Begum and fellow workers were convinced to go inside and begin the day's work as normal.

'After I went inside I saw the rumour was true,' says Ms Begum who had worked as a seamstress in a second floor factory.
'There was a crack in the pillar and the rods had come out. There were cracks in the ceiling too. It could collapse any time. I told my sister, "We made a mistake coming, letís leave".'

But it was too late. As the factories of Rana Plaza whirred into life, intense vibrations from the eighth floor generators and heavy looms elsewhere proved more than the weakened infrastructure could cope with.

'Suddenly we heard a loud noise, at around 8:45am,' says Dipu Asaduzzaman, a production manager who worked on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza.
'It was like the sound of a bomb going off. It sounded exactly the same. When I heard the noise, I looked up and saw everything collapsing.'

The building took just 90 seconds to collapse, leaving thousands of workers trapped inside the rubble, among them Mr Asaduzzaman and Ms Begum.

'I regained consciousness 20 minutes later,' said Mr Asaduzzaman. 'There was a wall on both my legs. A rod had gone through my right leg.
'I was bleeding. I was lying on my back. When I looked up I saw the ceiling was six inches above me. I had my phone in my hand and checked it. There was no reception, so I could not call anyone.'
'All I could think was where is my sister?', remembers Ms Begum. 'I was worried about her and I was panicking. I stood there and screamed and as soon as I screamed I fell into darkness. I was calling my sisterís name.'

A survivor is pulled from the rubble of collapsed Primark factory

Pain: Dipu Asaduzzaman was badly hurt in the disaster but hopes to one day open his own leather workshop

Grim: One of the 2.515 wounded survivors is carried away from the remains of Rana Plaza

Like Mr Asaduzzaman, when Ms Begum awoke minutes later, it was to find herself trapped beneath the rubble and in agony from her wounds.

'I was lying in a cramped space in darkness,' she says. 'My arm was trapped under rods, beams, machines, and tables.
'My head hurt and I was bleeding from my ear. It was horrible. Many of the people around me had died. Their blood rolled down my body. Everyone was screaming. I was thinking, where is my sister?'

Unbeknown to Ms Begum, her sister was already dead and it would be another 48 hours before rescuers appeared.

Mr Asaduzzaman, lying trapped in the rubble with a broken leg, was also in for a long wait. 'Sometimes we were screaming, "Save us, save us, save us",' he remembers.
'We could hear sounds outside but we did not know if anyone could hear us. Then we realised they were rescuing people. I told everyone we are alive so we will survive. They will rescue us, either today or tomorrow.

Under arrest: Four days after the disaster, owner Sohel Rana was arrested as he tried to flee Bangladesh

Horrific: Many of the victims of the disaster were women, among them Rojina's younger sister

'Time was passing. We did not feel hungry. We did not feel anything. It was 8 oíclock. Then we heard someone from outside call, "Is there someone in there?"
'We screamed, "Save us, save us". One of the people said "OK, we are coming". Then one guy came, a rescuer.
'He put some trousers under me, denim ones from the label sewing section. They dragged me out, using those trousers.
'Two people held me from the back and two people folded my knees from the front. My legs were fractured. I was in a lot of pain. I think of that moment sometimes. That's what I think of most.'

He was lucky. For Ms Begum, her arm pinned down with a chunk of concrete for more than 48 hours, getting out of Rana Plaza meant being forced to hack off her own limb with a saw.

'I never thought that Iíd have to amputate my own arm,' she says. 'But I was forced to by the situation.

The doctor tried to amputate it but couldnít reach.
'I said , "No matter how hard it is, amputate my arm". He said, "Iím giving you a saw and you can do it yourself".
'At first I said, "I canít. I have no strength."
It was the start of the third day.

He said, "Give it a try". I said, "OK, give it to me" and I cut it. I had only one thing on my mind, to look for my sister. Thatís why I could do it.'

For both Mr Asaduzzaman and Ms Begum, life since the disaster has been tough. Both are still receiving treatment and neither have had much help.
'Iím having treatment in the hospital,' says Mr Asaduzzaman. ;I donít know for how long. It will be a long process. The doctors said so.

'But I am hoping to start a leather goods business very soon. I tell everyone this - I ask you to pray I can do it.'

Ms Begum says her future looks bleak. 'I never imagined in my entire life that Iíd have to see my younger sisterís grave,' she says, tears rolling down her cheeks.
'Iíd hoped to do a lot of things. What will I hope for now? I have only one hand. I can't do anything.'
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