BREAKING NEWS:
Erics, Turkey 7.2-magnitude Earthquake
 
 

Turkey Baby Erics, Turkey — A 2-week-old baby girl, her mother and grandmother were pulled from the rubble of an apartment building alive on Tuesday in a dramatic rescue, almost 48 hours after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake toppled some 2,000 buildings in eastern Turkey.
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Turkey Baby

Erics, Turkey — A 2-week-old baby girl, her mother and grandmother were pulled from the rubble of an apartment building alive on Tuesday in a dramatic rescue, almost 48 hours after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake toppled some 2,000 buildings in eastern Turkey.

Rescuers in orange jumpsuits clapped as the baby, Azra Karaduman, was removed from the wreckage. A rescuer cradled the naked infant, wrapped in a blanket and handed over to a medic.

The baby's mother, Semiha, had been pinned next to a sofa inside the flattened building before her rescue. She had been clutching the infant to her chest when rescuers reached them. The grandmother was also inside the ruin.

"I am so excited. What can I say. Let God help them," the child's other grandmother, Sevim Yigit, told Reuters, eyes brimming with tears of joy beneath her headscarf.

As she spoke, a rescuer leaned forward to reassure her: "We're going to get them out soon."

There was no word on the father, who had also been in the building when it fell.

Officials raised the death toll in the powerful quake to 432. The prime minister's office on Tuesday also said 1,352 people were injured.

The large crowd gathered at the scene applauded when a rescuer emerged cradling the baby in his arms. Relieved relatives pressed forward as she was taken to an ambulance.

"We have been waiting for almost 48 hours," said a teenaged boy cousin, whose mother was also missing. "I hope my mother and aunt will be rescued as well."

The family had been trapped since the apartment block, several stories high, collapsed when the Turkey earthquake struck early on Sunday afternoon.

One side of the building was reduced to a pile of broken concrete masonry and mangled metal, while the other side was leaning, propped up by a crane so the rescue operation could continue more safely.

Rescuers in two cities, Ercis and Van, raced to free people trapped inside mounds of concrete, twisted steel and construction debris. Authorities have warned survivors of the deadly quake not to enter damaged buildings and thousands spent a second night outdoors in cars or tents in near-freezing conditions, afraid to return to their homes.

Dogan news agency said rescuers had pulled five people out of the rubble alive early Tuesday morning, although many more bodies were discovered.

In the hardest-hit city of Ercis, 9-year-old Oguz Isler was trapped for eight hours beneath the rubble of a relative's home. He was finally rescued, but on Tuesday 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 waited calmly in front of what was left of the five-story apartment block that used to be his aunt's home.

Turkish rescue workers in bright orange jumpsuits and Azerbaijani military rescuers in camouflage uniforms searched through the debris, using excavators, picks and shovels to look for Isler's mother and father and other relatives still inside.

Dogs sniffed for possible survivors in gaps that opened up as their work progressed.

"They should send more people," Isler said as he and other family members watched the rescuers. An elder cousin comforted him.

Mehmet Ali Hekimoglu, a medic, said the dogs indicated that there were three or four people inside the building, but it was not known if they were alive.

The boy, 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 and blankets and set up soup kitchens.

There was still no power or running water and aid distribution was at times disrupted as desperate people stopped trucks even before they entered Ercis, leading some residents to complain that they could not get tents and stoves for their families.

The Turkish Red Crescent was criticized for failing to ensure that some of the neediest, particularly in villages, received tents as night temperatures plummeted. The government has apologized 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.

Television images showed desperate men pushing each other roughly to grab tents from the back of a Red Crescent truck.

"I didn't think the Red Crescent was successful enough in giving away tents," Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party, told CNN Turk. "I apologize to our people."

Soon after, the relief agency's chairman told the news channel that 12,000 more tents would reach Van on Tuesday. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, overseeing relief operations there, said: "From today there will be nothing our people lack."

Hundreds of tents were erected in two stadiums but many preferred to stay close to their homes for news of the missing or to keep watch on damaged buildings.

The government said it would set up temporary homes and would begin planning to rebuild destroyed areas with better housing. Turks across the country began sending blankets and warm clothing.

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