Bangladesh factory collapse hero commits suicide

The Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed on April 25, 2013, killing 1,138 people. Mr Nowshad Hasan Himu, who rescued dozens of people, killed himself on Wednesday after suffering trauma-related depression.
The Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed on April 25, 2013, killing 1,138 people. Mr Nowshad Hasan Himu, who rescued dozens of people, killed himself on Wednesday after suffering trauma-related depression.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DHAKA • A Bangladeshi activist who rescued dozens of people when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in 2013 has committed suicide after suffering years of trauma-related depression, the police said yesterday.

Police said Mr Nowshad Hasan Himu, 27, killed himself near the industrial town of Savar late on Wednesday, the sixth anniversary of the disaster that killed 1,138 people in one of the world's worst industrial tragedies. "He poured kerosene onto his body and set himself on fire. He was rushed to a Dhaka hospital, where he died," Inspector Asgar Ali told Agence France-Presse.

He said they suspect Mr Himu was suffering from a bout of depression, and friends confirmed that Mr Himu had been traumatised by the disaster.

"He used to live alone at his home with two dogs. He avoided people," Insp Ali said.

Tributes poured in for Mr Himu, who was involved in left-wing politics, with friends saying he had struggled to process the deadly building collapse.

"He was at the Rana Plaza rescue work for 17 consecutive days. He helped recover dozens of bodies and rescue survivors," Ms Taslima Akhter, a garment union leader and an award-winning photographer, said.

Ms Akhter said Mr Himu also spent days in hospitals to help the survivors. When a worker died weeks after the disaster, he accompanied the body to her home in remote northern Bangladesh. "He was deeply traumatised and was suffering from depression. He told his friends that he used to smell rotten bodies and would see dead bodies walking behind," she said.

 

Mr Himu's death puts the spotlight on the continuing human toll of the Rana Plaza disaster. According to a survey in April conducted by British charity Action Aid, some 10 per cent of Rana Plaza survivors are still traumatised six years after the disaster.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline 'Bangladesh factory collapse hero commits suicide'. Print Edition | Subscribe