Saturday 25 November 2017

Azra, the miracle two-week-old baby pulled alive from Turkish earthquake rubble

Rescue workers carry Azra Karaduman, a two-week-old baby who was pulled from the debris of the earthquake. Photo: Getty Images
Rescue workers carry Azra Karaduman, a two-week-old baby who was pulled from the debris of the earthquake. Photo: Getty Images

A two-week-old baby girl has been pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building that collapsed in the Turkish earthquake.

Rescuers applauded as the baby, Azra Karaduman, was removed from the wreckage 47 hours after the 7.2-magnitude quake.

One cradled the naked baby, who was then wrapped in a blanket and handed over to a medic.

More than 2,000 buildings collapsed in the earthquake.

Rescuers in two cities in eastern Turkey are still struggling to pull out survivors from the wreckage.

Survivors have been warned not to enter damaged buildings in Ercis and Van 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.

Rescuers pulled five people out of the rubble alive in the early hours of today, although many more bodies were discovered.

In the hardest-hit city of Ercis, nine-year-old Oguz Isler was trapped for eight hours beneath the rubble of a relative's home. He was finally rescued, but 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 sat calmly in front of what was left of the five-storey 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.

He, 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. Fire engines carried tons of water while giant generators were sent in on trucks.

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