On April 24, 2013, thousands of garment workers were toiling inside the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh. A violent jolt shook the floors around 9am. Then the eight-storey building gave a deafening groan, the pillars gave way and the entire structure went down in a heap with terrifying speed. The final death toll was 1,135 people.
Investigators say a host of factors contributed to its collapse: it was overloaded with machines and generators, constructed on swampy land, and the owner added floors in violation of the original building plan.
The owner of the building is behind bars, pending an investigation, but there has been no word on when he will be put on trial.
Rescuers found Reshma 17 days after the collapse, and authorities say her survival was miraculous. When the building began crumble around her, she said she raced down a stairwell into the basement, where she became trapped near a wide pocket that allowed her to survive. She found some dried food and bottles of water that saved her life.
Although her story has a happy ending — she now works in an international hotel in Dhaka's upmarket Gulshan area — she is still haunted by the disaster. "I can't tolerate darkness in my room at night. The light is switched on always," she said. "If the light is turned off, I start panicking. It feels like ... What I can say? Like I am still there."
Reshma, who says she is either 18 or 19 years old, is waiting for the day that the factory owners face justice. "So many people have died because of them," she said. "I want to see them executed."