Before Friday, the last survivor had been found April 28, and even her story ended tragically. As workers tried to free Shahina Akter, a fire broke out and she died of smoke inhalation.
Crews were instead engaged in the painstaking work of trying to remove bodies so the victims' families could bury their loved ones. They eventually approached the section where Begum was trapped.
"I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention," Begum said.
She finally got the crews' attention when she took a steel pipe and began banging it, said Abdur Razzak, a warrant officer with the military's engineering department who first spotted her in the wreckage.
The rescue crews ordered the cranes and bulldozers to stop immediately and used handsaws and welding and drilling equipment to cut through the iron rods and debris still trapping her. They gave her water, oxygen and saline as they worked.
After 40 minutes, she was free.
"She was fine, no injuries. She was just trapped. The space was wide," said Lt. Col. Moyeen, an army official at the scene who uses only one name.
Begum told her rescuers there were no more survivors in her area. Workers began tearing through the nearby rubble anyway, hoping to find another person alive.
Begum's sister Asma said she and her mother kept a vigil for the seamstress, who is from the rural Dinajpur district, 270 kilometers (170 miles) north of Dhaka. She said they had been losing hope amid the endless string of grim days, when scores of bodies and no survivors were removed from the rubble.
"We got her back just when we had lost all our hope to find her alive," she told Somoy TV. "God is so merciful."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose government has come under criticism for its lax oversight over the powerful garment industry, raced to the hospital by helicopter to meet Begum and congratulated the rescuers, officials said.
"This is an unbelievable feat," Hasina was quoted as saying by her assistant, Mahbubul Haque Shakil.
Begum lived in a rented house with her sister, who worked at a different garment factory.
Officials said Saturday that 1,081 bodies had been recovered so far from the ruins of the 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 working conditions in Bangladesh's $20 billion garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the globe.
Over the last week identification of the bodies being recovered from the debris has become harder because they are badly decomposed, officials said.
Officials say the owner of Rana Plaza illegally added three floors and allowed the garment factories 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.
Hossain reported from Dhaka.