A woman is rescued from the rubble of the Rana Plaza building 17 days after the building collapsed in Savar May 10, 2013. Rescuers pulled the woman, identified by Bangladeshi media only as Reshma, on Friday from the rubble of the Bangladesh garment factory, astonishing workmen who had been searching for bodies of victims of a disaster that has killed more than 1,000 people.
Credit: Reuters/Stringer

DHAKA, Bangladesh — In a startling development, a woman trapped for 17 days beneath the rubble of a collapsed building on the outskirts of Dhaka was discovered alive on Friday and then rushed to a nearby military hospital after rescuers pulled her free.
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The woman, whose name is Reshma, had apparently been in the basement of the building, possibly in a Muslim prayer room. Rescuers, speaking live on national television from the wreckage site in Savar, said they were clearing debris on Friday afternoon when they saw a pipe moving. It turned out to be Reshma, shaking the pipe from below, trying to gain attention.

“Save me!” rescuers say they heard her shouting.

The stunning discovery transformed what had been an especially gloomy day in the recovery effort, as the death toll pushed past 1,000 victims. More than 3,000 people were believed to be working at five clothing factories in the building, Rana Plaza, when it collapsed on the morning of April 24 in what is now considered the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry.

The death toll, now at 1,021, has been rising quickly in recent days, and will probably keep climbing, as work crews are now removing rubble from some of the most heavily damaged sections of the building.

The accident has intensified pressure on global brands and retailers that buy clothing from factories in Bangladesh to take action to improve worker safety. In November, at least 112 workers died in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory, which was producing clothing for Sears, Walmart and other global brands and retailers. Earlier this week, a smaller factory fire killed at least eight people.

The Rana Plaza disaster led to nationwide mourning in Bangladesh as well as outrage because it appears that the accident could have been averted. A day before the collapse, an engineer examined cracks in the structure and warned Mr. Rana, as well as owners of the garment factories, that the building was unsafe and should be closed. Instead, workers were told to come to their factories the next morning, and not long after the shifts began, the building collapsed.

It's been reported that renovating other factories and building new ones to comply with standard life safety practices would add ten cents to the cost of each article of clothing produced in these factories.
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