Girl rescued from rubble 91 hours after Turkey quake as death toll exceeds 100

A young girl was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building in the western Turkish city of Izmir on Tuesday, more than 90 hours after a deadly earthquake which killed at least 107 people.

Rescuers heard Ayda Gezgin’s screams from under the rubble and managed to pull her out hours later, taking her out on a stretcher as emergency teams continued to search five destroyed apartment blocks for survivors.

As the child was pulled from the rubble, covered in dust but unhurt, one rescue worker hugged and kissed her, and some called “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). There was applause when the young girl, whose age was variously given as three or four years old, was carried away on a stretcher.

“We have witnessed a miracle in the 91st hour,” Izmir Mayor Tunc Soyer tweeted. “Rescue teams pulled out four-year-old Ayda alive. Along with the great pain we have experienced, we have this joy as well.”

“She smiled, she was waiting for us,” said Levent Onur, one of the rescue workers pulling Ayda out, adding the child had been stuck behind a washing machine which shielded her from injury.

“The name of our miracle after 91 hours is Ayda. Thank God,” tweeted cabinet minister Murat Kurum.

The Interior Ministry later said that Ayda’s mother was found dead by rescuers shortly after her child’s rescue.

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Deputy Health Minister Muhammet Guven told reporters at the hospital where Ayda was taken that the child was in good health and that she was receiving treatment.

The 7.0 magnitude quake injured 994 people, the agency known by its Turkish acronym AFAD reported, with 147 still in hospital.

It added that rescue workers in Izmir province were continuing to search tirelessly in five buildings for an unknown number of missing individuals.

The worst hit Turkish town was Bayrakli in Izmir where there was a mixture of celebration and sadness on Monday after a three-year-old girl named Elif Perincek and a 14-year-old named Idil Sirin were rescued from the rubble.

But both lost a sibling each to the disaster which struck on Friday afternoon in the Aegean Sea.

Two teenagers on their way home from school were also killed in Greece.

Turkey has reported over 1,464 aftershocks following the quake, including 44 that were above four in magnitude.

After dozens of buildings were damaged, and with the risk of repeated tremors, thousands of residents were forced to spend a fourth night in tents in Izmir.

The quake is the deadliest in Turkey this year after another disaster hit the eastern provinces of Elazig and Malatya in January, killing over 40 people.

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The country is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. More than 500 people were killed in a 2011 quake in the eastern city of Van.

In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 

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