Bangladesh Rana Plaza survivors struggling six months on

A Bangladeshi woman cries while holding a picture of her son Asadul, who went missing in the Rana Plaza building collapse, as she participates in a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Many people are still waiting for news of their loved ones

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After the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka six months ago, dozens of workers ended up with amputations or serious spinal injuries, and need long-term care.

Most survivors of the disaster, in which 1,130 people died, are still waiting for financial help. Some families are still in agonising limbo, with their loved ones still recorded as missing.

Musamat Rebecca Khatun was a sewing operator, and lost one leg below the knee, and the other just above the ankle when she was trapped in the rubble.

She has gone through eight operations in six months, and is awaiting yet another one.

Musamat Rebecca Khatun Many survivors like Musamat were left with serious long-term injuries

"During the recent Eid festival, most of the doctors went home to visit their families," she says.

"Afterwards, they came back and they saw that one of my legs had developed gangrene, and so they cut it again."

At the moment, the doctors say she cannot be fitted with an artificial limb because of the infection.

She remains in hospital.

Looking for work
Ayesha Aktar Ayesha Akhtar does not want to return to the garment industry

Ayesha Akhtar, 19, worked as a machine operator for New Wave Styles Ltd, one of the many businesses housed in the Rana Plaza complex.

When the building crumpled on that fateful day, she was rescued by the evening. She is now out of hospital, but for her, life has changed forever.

Whenever she sees a high-rise building, she is scared.

"I know that buildings do not collapse like Rana Plaza every day, but I am still afraid."

Ayesha says she is not going back to garment work.

"I am forced to find work to take care of my family, but they do not want me to go back to garment workings. So I am looking for a new job."

And six months on, she is still looking.

According to one charity, Action Aid Bangladesh, some 1,400 people who had jobs in the Rana Plaza are still looking for work.

Loss of earnings

Just a few minutes away from the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, there is a medical clinic.

This is where Sraban Ahmed Jehangir now works.

Sraban Ahmed Jehangir Sraban Ahmed Jehangir has a new job but it pays less

He used to have a good job in the complex, but now works as a clerk in the clinic for half the wage.

"I used to get 8,000 Bangladeshi Taka [$103] per month - now I only get 3,000 Taka.

"Since my house rental is 3,000 Taka, you can work out for yourself what my situation is like," he says.

The day before speaking to us, he says he sold his mobile phone to pay for his latest rent instalment.

Family burden

Nazma Akhter is a garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza collapse, but her husband didn't.

She has just had baby, adding to her burden.

Nazma Aktar Nazma Akhter survived, but her husband did not

"Our future is totally bleak," she says.

She lives in a small house near the Rana Plaza. She was given 20,000 Taka to take care of the funeral, and got 6,000 as back payment for loss of salary.

She is getting medical support from an NGO. But she has no idea whether the money she has received so far can be classified as compensation.

She does not know if she will get compensation or if she does, how much.

The factory owners have not said anything, she says.

Some financial aid was paid out by the government after the disaster, and some foreign companies are looking at arrangements for paying longer-term compensation.

But discussions continue between the government, the unions, the factory owners and the foreign buyers about how much compensation and who should contribute what.

Shahnaz Parveen and Qadir Kallol of BBC Bangla contributed to this report.

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