There are still many victims whose bodies were never found. At Rana Plaza ground zero people continue digging with bare hands even after a year, to find something, some forgotten traces among the ruins. There are dozens of people, relatives of the victims, who daily honor the memory of their loved ones, wandering around through the remains of the building.
About the project
On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building, collapsed in Savar, Dhaka (Bangladesh). The search for the dead ended on 13 May with a death toll of 1,129.
Rana Plaza ground zero on April 2014
Md. Rahat (26) and Yasmin Akhtar (23) are husband and wife. Both worked in the palace as sewing operators, respectively at the fifth and the fourth floor of Rana Plaza. The day of the collapse is still stuck in their memories. "Everything was vibrating, it was like a sudden earthquake, there was dust and smoke everywhere", says Md. Rahat, who saved himself by jumping from the buildin while it was collapsing. His physical injuries are healing, but that accident still has a strong impact on his mental state.
A woman holding her sister's working card, ascertaining she was working at Rana Plaza. Her body hasn't been found yet and her family hasn't received the due compensation.
A father remembering his daughter, died under the building. "She was neither 18 - he says - thus she even had to lie about her age to be taken as a seamstress. She was working to provide our family some money, I'm not able to be consoled". Many of those who survived feel either intense guilt or suffer from depression because they cannot imagine their futures anymore.
Massud Rana, 27, in a one-to-one talk with a NGO volunteer. He's trying to get rid of his fears, as that of indoor spaces and multi-storey buildings.
A group of women in Bank Colony waiting their turn to talk with social operators, hoping they can help them at least to get some compensation. They all hand tighten their relative's pictures and work card.
One year after the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, hundreds of workers and survivors are facing obstacles in obtaining, besides eonomic compensation, an adequate health care for issues related to their injuries and counseling for severe post-traumatic stress from the tragedy.
Many people here were admitted because of the injuries reported from Rana Plaza collapse. They are all severely injured and unable and unwilling to return to the garments factories for employment, therefore they are receiving various forms of training including sewing, electric and electronic works or business management.
Few no-profit organizations are still following psychologically traumatized survivors, helping with group counceling and enlisting them to rehabilitation programs. However, the issue is still largely understimated. Most of the rescue teams involved in the first aids did not have any psychological experts, which might have led to a superficial and incorrect identification of traumatised people. Traumatised patients indeed, according to a study conducted by different NGOs, if not taken care on an emergency basis can end to exhibit longer term psychological disorders or psychosocial disabilities.
A man with his daughters wandering through the ruins of Rana Plaza, in Savar.
Aklima (28), a surviving victim in Bank Colony hit by a severe post-traumatic syndrome. She tells about her enormous difficulty in resuming a normal life, as she's still suffering heavy psychological consequences. She is worried that what happened to her could also affect the her children well-being, and this does nothing but make her even more afraid.
Many of the over 2,500 survivors of the collapse still suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For all of them is barely impossible to return to their normal lives, as most are facing insomnia, memory losses, depression, flashbacks, fear, sadness, depression, panick attacks and disorientation. The government ensured it will take a two-year plan
to grant psychological treatments for the survivors to ease their distress and trumatic memory of the tragedy.
Jamila undergoes a session of psychological suppor, trying to make sense of what happened and start thinking to resume her life
Arati Bala Das, 18, is struggling to forget that day. She was extracted from the Rana building after three days, where a concrete pillar were blocking her. "It was dark all around, I couldn't even breathe. I thought I would not be able to return alive". The rescue workers managed to save her, but they had to amputate her leg. Arati's life from that moment underwent a drastic change. She received some money compensation from the government, which also took charge of her artificial limb, but this doesn't seem to relieve her pain.
Aklima is mother of three children, one of wich is only few months old. She was working on the 7th floor of Rana Plaza, but she can not remember anything of that day. Her mind erased most of the things she experienced during the collapse and she's still suffering severe mental problems. She confesses that many times she feels lost and bewildered, as her senses were no longer connected with reality. "But I want to get rid of my fears and all that nightmares. I just want a normal life for me and my children, I hope someone could give us help and no one will forget about our problems", she says.
Memories of that 24th April flood the mind of many survivors like ghosts, it is really hard to drive them away. "When I try to fall asleep all those horrible pictures reappear before my eyes, I still hear voices calling me. Many times I relived the scene when that concrete beam collapsed on my back" (M. Rana, 27).
Jamila Begum lost her daughter Shayla (20 yo) in the collapse. She remembers Shayla did not take any lunch for that day. "I told her please take your lunch, but she replied not to worry. She told me she needed just to go and take her salary, then she would have returned home”. She haven't seen her again. Jamila since that day is suffering severe psychological pain and depression. She wanders bewildered every day, always ending up to Rana Plaza ground zero, where the body of Sheyla is still resting. She has been doing it for over one year, always clutching the Sheyla's picture.
Sheuly, 26, after working several years as a housewife, has now been employed at GK Garments, a garment factory located in Savar district very close to Rana Plaza. She had to look for a job and a salary after she lost her husband, who was workink at Rana Plaza. She had been looking for him for days after the collapse, then one night - she remembers in tears - she dreamt about him calling her name. "Then I came to know he recommended a colleague laying behind him to tell me he was alive and he would have returned to me. My heart broke when they found his body lifeless after 17 days". Now she tries not to think of anything but take home a salary to grant a future to her son, even if the thought that this might happen again never leaves her.