Tuesday 23 January 2018

'We hugged and cried,' says family as baby, mum and granny found alive in rubble

Ruth Sherlock in Ercis, Turkey

THE miraculous moment came when, for the first time in hours of toil, Turkish rescue worker Kadir Direk's call to survivors was answered.

"We were walking over the rubble, calling 'is anybody there?' when we heard a cry 'we are here, save us'," he said.

What he came across in the ruins of a block of flats beggared belief. Through a gap in the rubble was three generations -- a baby daughter, her mother and grandmother -- huddled together.

Through a tiny opening in the wreckage of broken concrete pillars and twisted steel frames, 16-day-old Azra was passed out by her mother to Mr Direk, a 35-year-old volunteer who drove 1,300km across the country to join the rescue effort.

Nourished by her mother's milk after the earthquake struck on Sunday afternoon, she was said to be in a stable condition. Her aunt and uncle, waiting nearby, tearfully clutched her as they boarded a flight to a hospital in Ankara.


Ahmed Karaduman, her grandfather, said: "We hugged and we cried together. We had almost given up hope. I thank God that he saves her for us. She is such a lovely sweet child."

Shivering under the pelting rain, Mr Karaduman watched as rescuers continued the operation to free Azra's mother Seniha (24) and grandmother Gulsaadet (73).

Two hours later the two women were carried to ambulances as rescue workers and onlookers clapped and cheered.

"I gave her water, and told her that her baby was okay, that all would be fine and that her nightmare had ended," said Ihan Gok, a volunteer medic. "There is no feeling like it, being able to save a person's life."

Mr Karaduman was left waiting for his son -- the baby's father -- of whom there was no sign. The family, who live near Ankara, had been visiting him at his home in Ercis when the town was rocked by the 7.2-magnitude tremor that has so far claimed 432 lives.

Mr Karaduman was overcome with emotion. "I also have my son inside, please keep praying for us," he said to a friend on the phone, as he broke into tears.

In a separate rescue later in the day, a 10-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble of another building after being trapped for 54 hours.

Serhat Gur was wrapped in a blanket and taken to an ambulance on a stretcher. The pockets of jubilation were, however, tempered by many more discoveries of bodies by thousands of aid workers in Ercis, the worst-hit city, and in other communities in Van province. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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