SAVAR, Bangladesh - 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 Saturday, but was in generally good condition, according to her doctors.
The rescue Friday of Reshma Begum, 19, 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 Begum is being treated, said she was exhausted and badly stressed when she was brought in an ambulance Friday afternoon. She suffered scratches, but no major injuries, he said. Her kidneys were functioning at less than 45 percent and she suffered insomnia.
"She is panicked; sometimes she holds nurses' hands tight," he said.
Doctors were giving her semi-solid food and a saline solution for her dehydration. They advised complete rest, and barred reporters from speaking with her for fear their questions would worsen her fragile psychological state.
Nevertheless, Suhrawardy said Begum told him she was fine.
Begum 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, 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. "Her return is amazing, miraculous," he said.
Begum's family said they had been losing hope of finding her alive.
More than 2,500 people were rescued in the immediate aftermath of the April 24 disaster, but until Friday, crews had gone nearly two weeks without discovering anyone alive. Officials said Saturday that 1,115 bodies had been recovered from the ruins of the fallen building, which housed five garment factories.