Bangladesh collapse survivor gets post in top Dhaka hotel

Garment-maker who lived for 17 days under rubble had vowed never again to work in clothes factory

Protesters outside the Wal-Mart Stores headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas hold up a sign yesterday commemorating those killed in recent clothing factory tragedies in Bangladesh, including that at the collapsed Rana Plaza. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

A teenage garment-maker who survived for 17 days in the rubble of a collapsed Bangladesh garment factory building has left hospital with a new job at an international hotel chain.

Reshma Begum vowed never again to work in a garment factory after she was rescued from the wreckage of the eight-story Rana Plaza building near the capital, Dhaka.

A total of 1,129 people were killed in April in the world’s worst garment industry disaster.

The 19-year-old, whose tale of survival in a wide pocket beneath the debris has made her a celebrity in Bangladesh, fielded job offers from many companies before accepting work at the five-star Westin Hotel in Dhaka, said Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the local military chief overseeing her care.


The Westin's manager, Azim Shah, said Ms Begum would work in the housekeeping department as a "public area ambassador". Hotel officials said she would talk to guests, but did not elaborate on her responsibilities.

Authorities at the military hospital where Ms Begum was treated said she had fully recovered, and she looked fine today as she spoke briefly to the media.

“I am okay now, doing fine. I am grateful to everybody,” she said, before leaving in a van heading for the hotel.

Ms Begum, who earned 4,700 takas (€46) a month at one of the factories in the destroyed Rana Plaza, suffered a head injury in the collapse. She survived beneath the rubble by rationing cookies and water she had had with her.

Ongoing incidents

Despite global pressure for reform in the Bangladeshi garment industry, some incidents still occur.

About 450 garment workers fell ill during their shifts at a sweater factory near Dhaka yesterday, and authorities said the water supply is suspected.

Investigators from the health ministry are testing the water at the Starlight Sweater Factory for possible contamination, civil surgeon Syed Habibullah said.

The sick workers suffered vomiting, nausea and upset stomachs starting about two hours into their shifts. Mr Habibullah said they were given mainly saline at hospitals and those who were improving had left.

The factory gets its drinking water from an underground reservoir, chief executive Mohammad Shafiur Rahman said. It is piped to a tank on the roof of the eight-storey building and supplied to each floor in jars. The drinking water is supplied separately from the building's tap water, which workers are asked not to drink, he said.

The factory, which employs about 6,000 people in Gazipur, near Dhaka, was closed yesterday but reopened today.

"We have cleaned the reservoirs overnight and now the water there is safe for drinking," Mr Rahman said.