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Toddler pulled alive from rubble in Turkey four days after quake

Rescue workers find Ayda Gezgin in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Izmir, Turkey.
Rescue workers pulled Ayda Gezgin out of the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Izmir, Turkey, on Tuesday.
(APAD)

Even as hopes of reaching survivors began to fade, rescuers in the Turkish city of Izmir pulled a 3-year-old girl out alive from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building Tuesday, four days after a strong earthquake hit Turkey and Greece.

Wrapped in a thermal blanket, the child was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance to applause and chants of “God is great!” from rescue workers and onlookers.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca identified the girl as Ayda Gezgin and shared a video of her inside the ambulance. The child had been trapped inside the rubble for 91 hours since Friday’s quake struck in the Aegean Sea. She was the 107th person to have been rescued from buildings destroyed by the temblor.

Ayda’s mother did not survive; her body was found amid the wreckage hours later. The girl’s brother and father were not inside the building at the time of the quake.

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The death toll from the earthquake reached 104, after emergency crews retrieved more bodies elsewhere in the city.

Rescue worker Nusret Aksoy told reporters that he was sifting through the rubble of the toppled eight-story building when he heard a child’s scream and called for silence. He later located the girl in a tight space next to a dishwasher.

The girl waved at him, told him her name and said she was OK, Aksoy said. “I got goosebumps, and my colleague Ahmet cried,” he said.

Rescue workers have extricated a man from a collapsed building in western Turkey, 34 hours after a strong earthquake struck Turkey and Greece.

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Ibrahim Topal of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation said: “My colleague and I looked at each other like, ‘Did you hear that, too?’ We listened again. There was a very weak voice saying something like ‘I’m here.’ Then we shut everything down, the machines, and started listening again. And there really was a voice.”

Health ministry officials said Ayda was in good condition but would be kept under observation in the hospital for a while. She asked for her mother as well as for meatballs and a yogurt drink on her way to the hospital, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Her rescue came a day after another 3-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl were also pulled out alive from collapsed buildings in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city.

The U.S. Geological Survey rated Friday’s quake at 7.0 magnitude, although other agencies in Turkey recorded it as less severe.

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The vast majority of the deaths and some 1,000 injuries occurred in Izmir. Two teenagers also died and 19 people were injured on the Greek island of Samos, near the quake’s epicenter in the Aegean.

Officials said 147 quake survivors were still hospitalized, three of them in serious condition.


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