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Reliving the Rana Plaza nightmare

Published : 23 Apr 2021 09:52 PM | Updated : 23 Apr 2021 11:25 PM

“I was just around 14 years old; I had to join a readymade garment factory due to family poverty," said Babli, a survivor of the Rana Plaza building tragedy to Bangladesh Post on Friday. 

One day before the Rana Plaza building catastrophe, the factory authorities announced leave for workers around afternoon, mentioning that there were some flaws found in a generator, but they did not disclose the crack found in the building, we all were in the dark about everything, Babli continued. 

Later, our factory remained open again the next day (April 24, 2013), and I joined work like other workers, around 8:00 am in morning. At one stage, everything became dark in a moment with an extreme sound at around 8:45 am on the day, and I felt it might be a dream, and maybe I am sleeping in my house.” Babli Akter, 22, said while sharing her memories, eight years after the incident.

Babli worked at Phantom Apparels Ltd, a readymade garment factory, which was situated at the 3rd floor of Rana Plaza in Savar. She later resumed her education after surviving the incident, and now she is an SSC candidate for the upcoming examination. Not only Babli, but rather thousands of other workers are still fighting for their life after surviving the incident. Many of them are still suffering from their injuries, and many others yet to find a new way to survive, as most of the people who survived fortunately, are not capable of hard work due to their injuries.

“I heard someone calling me and asking, ‘Babli, are you alive, listen Babli, wake up’. Later, gradually my consciousness came back, and I found that I was lying on a bloodied dead man, who also worked with us, and the whole area was dark. Later, we found a little hole, and came out through that on the evening of the day, and we all were taken to hospital”, Babli said. The day was just like a nightmare to me, those scenes, the row of dead bodies, blood, still floating in front of my eyes; even sometimes those horrible scenes come to me as nightmares, and wake me up.

She further said, “I resumed my education after surviving that incident, as I felt that without education, nobody can turn around. If I don’t become educated, maybe I have to join such a workplace again, where there is not enough security for workers, and a suitable environment. I won't go back to the garment factory again as a worker. I want to be a teacher in my future, and this is why I resumed my education.”

When asked on whether she got any compensation after the incident, she replied, “I only got taka 95 thousand like other workers through Bkash in 3 phases.

Rima Begum, mother of Babli Akter, told Bangladesh Post, “I have 3 more children excluding Babli. She wants to continue her education, but it’s very hard for us as my husband earns little, and the whole family depends on him. If anybody assists Babli for her education, maybe then Babli can fulfill her dream.

Bangladesh Post talked to at least 10 people, who were injured in that incident in 2013. They all expressed grief as the cases filed over the incident have made no progress in trial proceedings as yet. All the victims and the victim’s families demanded the highest punishment for the accused, including the prime accused Rana.

On 24 April 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killed at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500.