ERCIS, Turkey– Rescuers have freed a woman hours after they also pulled out her 2-week-old baby girl alive from the rubble of an apartment building.
Television footage on Tuesday showed rescue workers carrying Semiha Karaduman out of the wreckage on a stretcher and moving her to an ambulance. The infant was pulled from the debris earlier.
Officials say the death toll in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Sunday is now 370. More than 2,000 buildings have collapsed.
Rescuers in two cities in eastern Turkey are struggling to pull out survivors from the wreckage
Rescuers in two cities, Ercis and Van, are still struggling to pull out people trapped trapping people inside mounds of concrete, twisted steel and construction debris. Authorities have warned survivors not to enter damaged buildings and thousands of people spent a second night outdoors in cars or tents in near-freezing conditions, afraid to return to their homes. Some 1,300 people were injured.
Dogan news agency said rescuers had pulled five people out of the rubble alive in the early hours of Tuesday, although many more bodies were discovered.
In the hardest-hit city of Ercis, 9-year-old Oguz Isler was trapped for eight hours beneath the rubble of a relative’s home. He was finally rescued, but on Tuesday he was waiting at the foot of the same pile of debris for news of his parents and of other relatives who remain buried inside.
The boy waited calmly in front of what was left of the five-story apartment block that used to be his aunt’s home. The city of 75,000, close to the Iranian border, lies in one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones.
Turkish rescue workers in bright orange jumpsuits and Azerbaijani military rescuers in camouflage uniforms searched through the debris, using excavators, picks and shovels to look for Isler’s mother and father and other relatives still inside.
Dogs sniffed for possible survivors in gaps that opened up as their work progressed.
“They should send more people,” Isler said as he and other family members watched the rescuers. An elder cousin comforted him.
Mehmet Ali Hekimoglu, a medic, said the dogs indicated that there were three or four people inside the building, but it was not known if they were alive.
The boy, his sister and a cousin were trapped in the building’s third-floor stairway as they tried to escape when the quake hit. A steel door fell over him.
“I fell on the ground face down. When I tried to move my head, it hit the door,” he said. “I tried to get out and was able to open a gap with my fists in the wall but could not move my body further. The wall crumbled quickly when I hit it.”
“We started shouting: ‘Help! We’re here,”‘ he said. “They found us a few hours later, they took me out about 8 1/2 hours later. … I was OK but felt very bad, lonely. … I still have a headache, but the doctor said I was fine.”
Isler’s 16-year-old sister, Ela, and 12-year-old cousin, Irem were also saved.
“They took me out last because I was in good shape and the door was protecting me. I was hearing stones falling on it,” said Isler.
The government’s response to the quake appeared to be well-coordinated because of the country’s vast experience in dealing with killer quakes and their aftermaths. Hundreds of rescue teams from throughout Turkey rushed to the area, racing to find survivors, while Turkish Red Crescent dispatched tents, blankets and soup kitchens.
However, there was still no power and running water in Ercis. Firefighter trucks carried tons of water while giant generators were sent in on trucks.
Turkey lies in one of the world’s most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.
Istanbul, the country’s largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey near a major fault line, and experts say tens of thousands could be killed if a major quake struck there.