Austrian cellar girl Kerstin Fritzl has recovered from coma and is reunited with her mother Elisabeth.
The 19-year-old, who was in a coma for weeks, was moved to the hospital where the rest of her family are recovering. They are all expected to stay there for several more months and under psychiatric care as they adapt to the real world.
AdvertisementApart from her mother, 42, the only people Kerstin had seen before were her two brothers Steven, 18, Felix, 5, and her jailor father Josef Fritzl, 73. She has never met siblings Lisa, 16, Monika, 14, and Alexander, 12, who were taken upstairs as babies by Fritzl.
She had been kept sedated since mid-April after suffering multiple organ failure.
She collapsed after getting no fresh air, light, exercise or proper food in the underground lair.
Last month a team of police officers searched the underground bunker where Fritzl, 73, held his daughter prisoner for 24 years and fathered her seven children. Later the police said the cellar was damp and covered in mildew and that as a result its inhabitants were now suffering from fungal infections.
They said Elisabeth Fritzl and her children appear to have survived entirely on deep frozen foods Fritzl bought at distant supermarkets to avoid detection and that they are unlikely to have eaten fresh vegetables.
A chronic shortage of oxygen in the cellar made them so listless that for most of the time they could only sit or lie down, police have revealed.
Investigators said they had established that the windowless bunker built by Josef Fritzl was hermetically sealed by a remote controlled door weighing half a ton and had only one ventilation shaft to provide the warren of underground rooms with air.
"There is so little oxygen that the victims would have had to spend nearly all their time lying or sitting down," one officer said.
They said that the atmosphere underground was so lacking in oxygen that if any more than four officers were admitted to the bunker at one time, they had great difficulty breathing.
Kerstin's condition, which worsened dramatically underground, led her to suffer from screaming fits.
Her illness eventually convinced Fritzl that he had to take his daughter to hospital or face the prospect of her dying.
Kerstin was delivered to hospital on April 19. Doctors then called the police.
New details about the health of Fritzl's cellar victims revealed that Elisabeth's Frtizl's 18-year-old son Stefan, who is under medical and psychiatric care, is suffering from serious motor neurone problems and that he has difficulty in moving as a result.
Doctors did not say whether his illness was directly linked to his captivity.
Police have said that Stefan is likely to be a key witness in Fritzl's trial and could determine whether murder charges are brought against him.
Meantime media reports say that Elizabeth Fritzl will tell all about her dungeon ordeal next month.
Elizabeth will be questioned by a judge in a closed hearing which Fritzl, 73, is expected to watch from his cell by video link.
Austrian legal experts had expected a full trial to be as much as two years away. But now Elizabeth has recovered sufficiently to give a statement, her dad could be in the dock as early as August.
Ironically though, Fritzl himself might not survive to face justice. He has a heart condition and already lost weight in jail.
Doctors want to test him for an unspecified blood disease. An inmate released from the Austrian jail where Fritzl is being held, said: "He really looks unwell. He's lost a lot of weight and hasn't left his cell for fear of being attacked. He is suffering."
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