"How will we survive?" Testimonies of injured workers of Bangladesh Rana Plaza Collapse

May, 16 2013 Share


Jasmine Sultana, sewing machine operator, New Wave Style

I am 20 years old. I worked for over a year at New Wave Style on the 6th floor as a sewing machine operator.  I am single and live with my co-worker in this tiny room.  I come from the Jessore District in the south-western part of Bangladesh.  On the 24th of April I was working on the sewing machine.  An hour after starting time, the factory building came crashing in.  Like other colleagues, I was trying to get out using the stairs.  But I fell down. An iron bar hit my back hard.  I could not move.  I fell in the dark.

I was in the pitch dark for nine hours without water and food.  Some of my co-workers were screaming out for help and water.  Volunteers pulled me out of the wreckage at 6.00 p.m. and I was sent to the Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar for treatment.  The iron bar that hit my back broke the tissue and muscle.  I was released from the hospital on April 30, but I still can't walk straight as I feel pain in my back. I need further medical care.  My parents live in the countryside.  I have one sister who also works in a garment factory. I wonder if I will be able to lead a normal life.


24-year-old Bilkis Begum was a sewing machine operator at New Wave Style factory. Her leg was smashed by a sewing machine when the building collapsed. She is a single mother with a little daughter.



Bilkis Begum, sewing machine operator, New Wave Style

I am Bilkis.  I'm 24 years old.  I have a daughter who is five.  I come from Bhola Distict, on the coast.  For the last three years, I have worked as a sewing machine operator at New Wave Style on the 7th floor of the Rana Plaza building.  On April 24, I was working on the last production line of the floor, near the window.  When the building began to cave in, I tried to hide under my work table.  But the sewing machine rolled down and fell on my leg and foot.  It was bleeding and smashed.  I felt severe pain in my whole body.  The building was collapsing and in a minute I found myself in a small dark cave with three or four of my colleagues.  We all were screaming for help, and water.  At 12:30 p.m., after three and a half hours, some volunteers came and were able to free us from the death trap.  The rescue team sent me to Savar Heath Complex where the doctor gave me medicine and bandaged me to stop the bleeding.

The doctor released me from the hospital on [April] 26th, although I was not fully cured, because more serious patients had to be admitted.  Now I am taking rest at home and gradually feeling better.  But it will take time for my wounds to heal.  I have only my one daughter.  Both of us live on the income that I make working at New Wave Style.  How will we survive?  How will I send my daughter to school?   We need help to survive.

I hope nobody meets such a dangerous suffocating moment in life. I could have died like many of my colleagues.  But Allah gave me a new life.  The government, management and buyers should seriously look to the safety of the workers.  We make clothes for foreigners with our sweat and blood.  They should think about our security and safety.  We are human beings, and we have the right to have a safe workplace for our future and for our children.



23-year-old Joynal Abedin worked for Phantom Apparels. A concrete slab broke his left leg and the doctor had to excise some muscle tissue from his leg. He's the bread winner of his family.



Joynal Abedin, marker at the cutting section, Phantom Apparels

My name is Joynal Abedin.  I'm 23. I worked at Phantom Apparels on the 3rd floor of the Rana Plaza building as a marker in the cutting section.  I am single and live with my brother-in-law and sister.  My sister is taking care of me as the hospital authority released me on the 27th.  I was trapped inside the caved-in building.

When the factory collapsed, I was then marking [fabric] on the cutting table.  Then the upper floor fell down and a concrete slab from above broke and came down on my left leg.  The bone is broken. My elbow and back still have wounds where flesh was removed by falling brick.  The rescue team got me out of the rubble at noon, after three hours.  The flesh of my left leg was crushed and some of it had to be cut off.   I was discharged from the hospital on the evening of April 27.

I am the elder son and the only bread earner of my family.  I did not get any help from the owner nor from the BGMEA [Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.]  I do not know when I will be fully cured and get back to work for living.  I badly need help until I recover fully.   



Amal Chandra is the only bread winner of his family and has a seven-year-old daughter to raise. With a broken right leg, he has not been able to walk.  



Amal Chandra, quality control, New Wave Style

I am Amal Chandra.  I am 36 years old, and I worked at New Wave Style's quality control section, on the 7th floor of the Rana Plaza.  I worked at the factory for two years.

The search and rescue operation team pulled me out the wreckage at 12:30 p.m., about three hours after the collapse.  You can see my right leg has been crushed.  The bone is displaced.  A concrete pillar fell on my leg while I was trying to run away from the floor when it collapsed.  It was really heavy concrete that hit my right leg.  I was groaning in acute pain in the dark room.  The rescuers immediately sent me to Savar Combined Military Hospital for better treatment.  I was there for three days.  The doctor advised complete bed rest, not to move or walk around.  Since then I have been on bed.  At home my wife is taking care of me.  We have a seven-year-old daughter.  I am the only income earner of my family.  In three weeks the doctor will examine me and determine whether I will need more bed rest or can walk.  I am worried about my future as I have no idea whether I can lead a normal life or not.  Right now, it is a paralyzed life physically and mentally.






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