Rescued after 45 hrs under rubble
Time was running out for Rikta. She was hungry and thirsty and drained. Two days had passed since she was trapped inside Rana Plaza. Nobody came.
So when someone did come early yesterday, about 45 hours after the collapse, she wondered: "Am I still alive?"
She was, but to remain so she would have to suffer more.
It was a group of civilian rescuers who found her around 5:30am under the rubble on the third floor of the nine-storey building. Her right hand was trapped under a sewing machine. The rescuers tried all means they could think of to pull her out. When all attempts failed, they had to improvise. They brought a hand saw, tied both her legs and hands, held her tightly so that she could not move and then cut off her hand from above the elbow.
"I somehow managed to bear the pain when they were cutting my flesh. But when it reached my bone … I don't know how to describe the pain," she told The Daily Star at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar. She then fainted.
The 25-year-old sewing operator was working on the third floor when the building crumbled like a pack of cards on Wednesday morning.
"It was around 8:20am. I just started sewing. Power went off and the building collapsed in no time. My right hand was trapped."
Her battle to hold on to life began. With the entire building almost sandwiched and thick dust all around, she was suffocating. "But it was all right in the first few hours."
However, as the day wore on, she thought her heart would stop for want of oxygen. There was no air.
With time she grew hungrier and thirstier still. "I could not take it any more. So at one stage I drank my urine," she said.
The mother of a nine-year-old son thanked the rescuers for bringing her back to her son and husband, a car driver.
She alleged it was their immediate bosses who forced them to work in the risky building and said that she had even been forced to work till late night every day without any weekly holiday over the past one month.
In the garment factory where she worked, she used to earn Tk 4,700 a month. But with one of her hands now gone, how she would support her family is a thought she cannot bear to think.