Turkey earthquake: three generations of same family rescued alive from rubble
THREE generations of the same family - first a baby, then her mother and finally her grandmother - have been rescued from the rubble of Turkey's earthquake that killed at least 370 people.
The three rescues occurred at two-hour intervals in the town of Ercis, which bore the brunt of Sunday's 7.2 magnitude quake in eastern Van province.
The first to be saved around midday was two-week-old Azra Karaduman, who was whisked by helicopter ambulance to the capital Ankara for medical treatment.
She had spent some 48 hours under the rubble.
Then teams pulled out the baby's mother Seniha, who had no life-threathening injuries but needed food and water, rescuers said, adding that she was taken to a field hospital some two miles away.
Rescuers then saved Azra's 73-year-old grandmother Gulzade Karaduman, who had a foot trapped in the debris.
The baby's father was believed to be still trapped in the rubble along with five or six other people, rescue workers said, adding that sniffer dogs were deployed to locate the living.
Search teams working round the clock earlier Tuesday rescued a pregnant woman and her two children and also dug out a police officer and his wife from their collapsed homes.
It came as the death toll was revised to at least 366 people. Tens of thousands have also been made homeless.
As hope of finding people alive under tons of rubble faded with every passing hour, rescuers pulled out more bodies while residents slept around small fires in towns rattled by aftershocks across Van province, near the Iranian border.
Five corpses were carried out in body bags from one crumpled building alone in the hard-hit town of Ercis as bystanders wept. Workers used heavy machinery, jackhammers, shovels, pick axes and bare hands to comb through smashed concrete and steel.
Every so often, exhausted rescuers would shout for silence and generators and diggers would stop, straining to hear voices under the wreckage. Seconds later the drone of the machinery would start again.
"Life has become hell. We are outside, the weather is cold. There are no tents," said Emin Kayram, 53, sitting by a camp fire in the town of Ercis after spending the night with his family of eight in a van parked nearby.
His nephew was trapped in the rubble of a building behind him, where rescue workers had been digging through the night.
"He is 18, a student. He is still stuck in there. This is the third day but you can't lose hope. We have to wait here," he said.
Crowds formed at one demolished building where bystanders said a trapped boy had made contact by mobile phone.
As a rescue team dug at the rubble, one man screamed at the workers: "Where were you last night? I told you last night there were people here."
The Disaster and Emergency Administration said on Tuesday the death toll had risen to 366, with 1,301 people injured. The overnight death toll stood at 279.
The death count is likely to rise further as many people are still missing and 2,262 buildings have collapsed.
Casualties have been mostly in Ercis and the provincial capital Van. Officials are checking outlying areas.
"It was like judgment day," said Mesut Ozan Yilmaz, 18, who survived for 32 hours under the rubble of a tea house where he had been passing time with friends.
Unhurt but lying on a hospital bed under a thick blanket, his face blackened by dust and dirt, Yilmaz gave a chilling account to CNN Turk of how he survived by diving under a table.
"The space we had was so narrow. People were fighting for more space to survive," Yilmaz said. "I rested my head on a dead man's foot. I know I would be dead now if I had let myself go psychologically."
As grieving families prepared to bury their dead, others kept vigil by the mounds of concrete rubble and masonry, praying rescue teams would find missing loved ones alive.
Rescue teams concentrated efforts in Ercis, a town of 100,000 that was worst hit by the 7.2 magnitude tremor.
The Turkish Red Crescent distributed up to 13,000 tents, and was preparing temporary shelter for about 40,000 people, although there were no reliable figures for the homeless.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government has received international offers of assistance from dozens of countries around the world, including from former ally Israel, but has so far accepted aid only from Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Iran.
The Turkish Red Crescent was criticised for failing to ensure that some of the neediest, particularly in villages, received tents as night temperatures plummeted. The government has apologised for the slowness in distributing tents.
"We were sent 25 tents for 150 homes. Everybody is waiting outside, we've got small children, we've got nothing left," said Ahmet Arikes, the 60-year-old headman of Amik, a village outside Van that was reduced to rubble.