Didar Hossain arrived for a shift to make clothes for the Western high street on Wednesday. By Friday night he was hailed as a hero after rescuing 30 people from the scene of Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident.
At its most extreme, his heroics involved amputating the hand of a young girl to salvage her from the wreckage of the Rana Plaza, the eight-storey Dhaka factory building in Bangladesh which collapsed killing more than 1,000.
Aanna Akhtar, the young girl he saved told The Daily Telegraph she knows she is one of the lucky ones.
Ms. Akhtar said she had started a job just three weeks ago making trouser pockets on the sixth floor, where New Wave Style Ltd. makes cheap clothes for chain stores like Primark and Bonmarche.
“I could not get it out," she said from her bed at Enam Medical College Hospital. "There were a lot of people with me at first. Many were saved because the roof rested on the machines. We all shouted for help.
"There were about ten of us together. Many of the other people were able to escape. The men who left said that they would get someone to help me, but no-one came. I shouted for help, and I wept and wept. I thought I wouldn’t get out alive. I spent the whole night there inside the building by myself. I was very scared.
"Beside me was the dead body of the colleague I worked with, I could see the blood coming out of her,”
She spent the night contorted into a crouching position with her arm aloft and hand trapped. In the morning, as her hopes of survival began to fade, she heard Didar Hossain calling out through the dark crevices. “I shouted back ’please help me brother’. He told me he could only help me if he cut off my hand and I let him. He then went out and came back with a knife and an injection. I was given an injection first. He had to chop of my hand to get me out,” she said.
Mr. Hossain, 28, who is married with two young children, had been working as a £45 a week machine operator at the al-Muslim factory opposite, when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. He ran out immediately, quickly found a tunnel inside the rubble, and began searching for survivors.
Over the next nine hours, he pulled 17 men to safety and retrieved four of the dead, he said. It was not until the following morning that he heard Aanna Akhtar’s cry for help.
“I heard a woman’s voice asking for help at about 10 am. I found her. There were two dead bodies beside her. I tried to see whether it was possible to rescue her without chopping off her hand, by moving the machinery, but I was scared that if I moved any of the machinery the roof may collapse further. So I told her that the only way I can get you out is to chop off your hand and she agreed,” he explained.
He went back outside ask a doctor, who was too afraid to enter the rubble, for his advice. He returned with an injection and a surgical knife, he said, and as he carried out the surgery, both he and his patient cried. “I went back in and gave her the injection and started cutting. The knife did not seem to be that sharp. It was hard. I was weeping and Aanna was weeping. It hurt her a lot. The whole rescue took 4 hours,” he said.
He had been scared to go into the debris at first, he said, but felt compelled. “I could see that there was a narrow tunnel into the building.
Everyone warned me not to go in, as the building could collapse even further. I was scared to go in, but I knew that if I saved one person that would be worth it,” he said.
Akhtar was one of 36 people he had rescued and yesterday, as they recalled their tearful ordeal, she said his bravery had saved her life. “I feel terrible about my hand, but I am still alive,” she said.