The word “tragedy” falls short in many senses when it comes to the death of Shaheena, a Rana Plaza victim who survived the collapse, but died while waiting to be rescued.
Clinging to life for more than 100 agonising hours trapped in the northeast corner of the third floor, she had given the nation something to hold on to.
But all efforts to bring her out went in vain when a fire broke out inside the sandwiched floors of the collapsed building during the rescue operation.
“It is extremely painful to see a soul of such strong will, determined to survive, slipping through the fingers,” said firefighter Abul Khayer, who recovered lifeless Shaheena yesterday at around 4:00pm.
Shaheena had all the reasons to hope to be rescued once she had managed to communicate with the rescuers Saturday afternoon. She had three more female survivors around her who went silent since Sunday afternoon.
By Sunday morning, the rescuers had made a tunnel and provided her with saline and oxygen. In the evening, they managed to cut some iron rods of the beam, behind which she got trapped. But they could not pull her out, as her body could not slip through the tiny space.
A team of rescuers, including two army personnel, a firefighter, a doctor and a volunteer, then entered the tunnel. When all the preparations to pull her out were complete around 10:00pm, a fire broke out from the sparks that originated from rod-cutting.
The rescue team immediately had to retreat, leaving Shaheena behind. One of the rescuers sustained injuries in the fire.
Capt Ashraf, a member of the team, while giving his account right after the fire incident, told reporters, “We do not know about her fate.”
The members of the rescue team, Capt Hasan and doctor Murad, choked with emotion while talking to newsmen at 11:00pm.
Yet hundreds of people kept fingers crossed and wished for a miracle. Prayers for her survival also flooded the social networking sites. But frustrating all, the 30-hour rescue effort ended in tears.
After the recovery of Shaheena’s body, a volunteer said, “She still looked alive.”
Rescuers and people gathered in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza were seen in tears after they had heard of the death of Shaheena.
The rescuers could not confirm the cause of Shaheena’s death, but said she might have died of suffocation or extreme weakness. It would be confirmed after autopsy.
Her body was taken to Savar Adharchandra High School playground where all the dead bodies had been taken for identification.
However, confusion arose over her family, as one person had shown up at the playground claiming to be her father, while another woman came claiming to be her aunt. But they could not come up with the information Shaheena had given to the rescuers.
Hailing from Kushtia, Shaheena is reported to have no one in the family except for a one and a half year old son.
Source: The Daily Star