Amid Death Toll of 24K, 'Shimmers of Joy'

Five days after Turkey-Syria quake, teen boy, family of 5 pulled alive from rubble
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2023 5:30 AM CST
Teen Pulled From Turkish Rubble: 'What Day Is It?'
Aerial photo showing collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on Saturday. Rescuers in Turkey miraculously continued to pull earthquake survivors out of the rubble.   (IHA via AP)

Rescue teams in Turkey on Saturday pulled to safety a family of five who survived inside their collapsed home for five days following a major earthquake in a sprawling border region of Turkey and Syria, per the AP. They first extricated mother and daughter Havva and Fatmagul Aslan from a mound of debris in the hard-hit town of Nurdag, in Gaziantep province, Haberturk reported. The teams later reached the father, Hasan Aslan, but he insisted that his other daughter, Zeynep, and son Saltik Bugra be saved first. Then, as the father was brought out, rescuers cheered and chanted "God is great!" The dramatic rescue after 129 hours brings to nine the number of people rescued Saturday, despite diminishing hopes amid freezing temperatures. They included a disoriented 16-year-old and a 70-year-old woman.

"What day is it?" Kamil Can Agas, the teen who was pulled out of the rubble in Kahramanmaras, asked his rescuers, according to NTV television. The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday's 7.8 magnitude quake collapsed thousands of buildings, killing more than 24,000 people, injuring another 80,000, and leaving millions homeless. Another quake nearly equal in power and likely triggered by the first caused more destruction hours later. Not everything ended so well, however. Rescuers reached a 13-year-old girl inside the debris of a collapsed building in Hatay province early on Saturday and intubated her, but she died before medical teams could amputate a limb and free her from the rubble, the Hurriyet newspaper reports.

Even though experts say trapped people can live for a week or more, the odds of finding more survivors are quickly waning. Rescuers are shifting to thermal cameras to help ID life amid the rubble, a sign of the weakness of any remaining survivors. As aid continued to arrive, a 99-member group from the Indian Army's medical assistance team began treating the injured in a temporary field hospital in the southern city of Iskenderun, where a main hospital was demolished. Temperatures remained below freezing across the large region, and many people have no shelter. The Turkish government has distributed millions of hot meals, as well as tents and blankets, but it's still struggling to reach many people in need. The disaster compounded suffering in a region beset by Syria's 12-year civil war, which has displaced millions of people within the country and left them dependent on aid.

(More Turkey-Syria earthquake stories.)

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