Nightly News   |  May 10, 2013

Against all odds woman survives Bangladesh factory disaster

As workers began the grim process of recovering the dead, they heard a faint cry from the rubble.  Seamstress Reshma Begum spent more than 16 days trapped in a basement mosque, subsisting on dried foods and small amounts of water. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

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>>> in bangladesh an inkreecredible ray of hope 17 days after a building collapse left more than a thousand garment workers dead. just about everybody had given up hope but today in the ruins of one of the worst industrial accidents in history, it happened. nbc's ian williams has our story.

>> reporter: it was a stunning moment. a young woman pulled alive from the rubble after more than two weeks. the day began much differently with the grim work of recovering the dead. more than a thousand as of this morning. then workers heard tapping on a steel pipe and a faint cry. "i'm alive, please save me." bulldozers and heavy equipment were shut down. workers used hand saws and drilling equipment to cut through debris. a crowd gathered, some prayed. finally after 40 minutes the young seamstress was pulled free and rushed to a waiting ambulance. doctors say she's in remarkably good shape having survived on bottled water she found around her in a pocket formed by the collapsed debris. i never dreamed i'd see daylight again she said from her hospital bed. i was saved by god. three others trapped with her did not survive. the rescue raised hopes for the scores of workers still missing. family members still stand vigil near the factory ruins. among those who rushed to her bedside today, bangladesh's prime minister. she's facing tough questions about working conditions in her country's $20 billion garment industry . so are brand name companies drawn here by some of the lowest wages on earth. suddenly under intense pressure to improve worker safety . now alive against all odds she's given those demands for change a human face. the use of heavy machinery at the site remains suspended. rescue workers have resumed their search in the faint hope that others can still be found alive. brian?

>> incredible story. ian williams with our report tonight. ian, thanks.