Middle East

Toddler pulled from ruins after 78 hours trapped by Turkey earthquake

A two-year-old toddler has been pulled from the wreckage of a destroyed building in Turkey, 78 hours after the earthquake that devastated swathes of the country.

The boy, named as Mehmet Tatar by the Turkish DHA news agency, was rescued from the wreckage of a four-floor apartment building in the Odabası district of Hatay province, by members of the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). He was handed to medical team and sent for medical treatment.

An hour earlier, a woman was rescued from the rubble of an apartment building in the Turkish city of Malatya, about 250 miles north of Odabası, having also been trapped since the first Earthquake struck early on Monday.

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Meral Nakir, 60, was pulled from the first floor of what had been by a six-story building with the help of a rescue dog, Kopuk, which translates as Foam. Foam reacted to the sounds Ms Nakir was making, allowing a rescue team from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) to make contact.

After clearing away rubble for more than 20 hours – with soldiers, police, medical teams, the AFAD, fire brigades and health teams all taking part in the effort – a hole was then drilled to the area where Ms Nakir was trapped. That was widened to allowed her rescue. After being carried by volunteers to safety, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance for medical treatment, with the rescue team hugged and shed tears after the dramatic rescue.

In total, Float, who travelled more than 300 miles from the city of Van to Malatya to help with rescue efforts, has helped rescue six people, four of which were rescued from one shattered building two days ago.

While there were tears from joy over those rescues, another highlighted the anguish that can follow. Abdulalim Muaini was recused from Hatay late on Tuesday, his legged trapped under concrete, after hours of work. Close beside him lay his wife, Esra, it was too late for her.

Mehmet Tatar was found in the ruins of an apartment block


Mr Muaini is of Syrian origin, from Homs. An area that also felt the earthquakes Reuters reported that he had fled the civil war and married Esra, a Turkish woman. The couple had two daughters, Mahsen and Besira. When he was eventually pulled from the rubble, there were three bodies nearby covered in blankets. Esra, Mahsen, and Besira, all had died.

The death toll from earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria this week neared 16,000 on Thursday morning, as hopes faded of many more people being found alive with a crucial 72 hours window having passed.

The death toll in Turkey has jumped to 12,873. In Syria, already devastated by nearly 12 years of civil war, more than 3,000 people have died, according to the government and a rescue service in the rebel-held northwest.

Grab of Meral Nakır, 60, being rescued in Malatya, Turkey 77 hours after the earthquake


In the devastated Syrian town of Jandaris, Ibrahim Khalil Menkaween walked in the rubble-strewn streets clutching a folded white body bag. He said he had lost seven members of his family including his wife and two of his brothers.

“I’m holding this bag for when they bring out my brother, and my brother’s young son, and both of their wives, so we can pack them in bags,” he told Reuters.”The situation is very bad. And there is no aid.”

Aid officials hope to deliver aid into northwest Syria from Turkey on Thursday, using a crossing that had been closed since the first earthquake.

In Turkey, many have complained of a lack of equipment, expertise and support to rescue those trapped – sometimes even as they could hear cries for help. Further slowing the relief effort, the main road into the Turkish city of Antakya was clogged with traffic as residents who had finally managed to find scarce gasoline sought to leave the disaster zone and aid trucks headed into the area.

In Syria, relief efforts are complicated by the conflict that has wrecked its infrastructure, with a number of cities affected in the opposition-held northwest having faced years of bombardment from the forces of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

“There are a lot of people under the rubble there are no heavy equipment to pull them out and the voluntary teams are not able to work with light equipment,” said Yousef Nahas, a resident of Salqeen in Syria’s northwest, told Reuters.

The first UN aid trucks to enter rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkey since the quake arrived Thursday morning. Smaller aid organizations have sent in shipments, but the U.N. is only authorised to deliver aid through one border crossing and road damage has prevented that thus far.

El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the senior UN aid official in Syria, said 10.9 million people had been affected by the catastrophe in the northwestern governorates of Hama, Latakia, Idlib, Aleppo and Tartus.

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 280 miles from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east. In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, more than 100 miles from the epicentre.


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