A seamstress who survived 17 days before being rescued from a collapsed garment factory building was panicked, dehydrated and suffering from insomnia as she recovered in a Bangladesh hospital on Saturday, but was in generally good condition, according to her doctors.
The rescue of Reshma Begum, 19, on Friday brought a boost to the workers who had spent more than two weeks pulling decaying bodies from the rubble. By Saturday, they had resumed their grim task and the death toll surpassed 1,100 in the world's worst garment industry disaster.
"We will not leave the operation until the last dead body and living person is found," said Maj. Gen. Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, the head of the local military units in charge of rescue operations.
Lt. Col. Azizur Rahman, a doctor at the military hospital where Ms Begum is being treated, said she was exhausted and badly stressed when she was brought in an ambulance on Friday afternoon. She suffered scratches, but no major injuries, he said. Her kidneys were functioning at less than 45% and she suffered insomnia.
Doctors were giving her semi-solid food and saline for her dehydration. They advised complete rest and barred reporters from speaking with her for fear their questions would worsen her fragile psychological state.
Several photographers and cameramen were allowed to take pictures of Ms Begum on Saturday afternoon as she lay on her hospital bed. Her head was covered in a neon green scarf and she looked tired but alert. A white sheet covered her up to her neck. She was hooked to a monitor and had an intravenous drip in her left arm.
She had spent 17 days in a room-like area under the rubble high enough for her to stand, surviving on dried food, bottled water and rain water, Maj. Gen. Suhrawardy said. She got fresh air from some of the 27 air holes that rescuers had dug in the rubble. She even found cartons of dresses inside and was able to change her clothes, he said.
Meanwhile, officials said on Saturday that 1,115 bodies had been recovered from the ruins of the fallen building, which housed five garment factories employing thousands of workers. They said 780 bodies had been handed over to families.
The disaster has raised alarm about the often deadly working conditions in Bangladesh's 20 billion US dollars garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the globe.
Officials say the owner of the Rana Plaza building illegally added three floors and allowed five garment factories in the building to install heavy machines and generators, even though the structure was not designed to support such equipment. The owner and eight other people, including the owners of the garment factories, have been detained.