Miracle baby emerges from Turkish quake rubble
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
ERCIS, Turkey (AP) — After 48 hours, a miracle emerged from the rubble: a 2-week-old baby girl brought out half-naked but alive from the wreckage of an apartment building toppled by Turkey’s devastating earthquake.
Rescue workers erupted in cheers and applause Tuesday at sight of the infant — and again hours later when her mother and grandmother were pulled out, their survival a ray of joy on an otherwise grim day.
The death toll from Sunday’s 7.2-magnitude quake climbed to at least 459 as desperate survivors fought over aid and blocked aid shipments. A powerful aftershock ignited widespread panic that turned into a prison riot in a nearby provincial city.
With thousands of quake survivors facing a third night out in the open in near-freezing temperatures, Turkey set aside its national pride and said it would accept international aid offers, even from Israel, with which it has had strained relations.
Tuesday’s dramatic rescue of three generations of one family was all the more remarkable because the infant, Azra Karaduman, was declared healthy after being flown to a hospital in Ankara, the Turkish capital.
Television footage showed rescuer Kadir Direk in an orange jumpsuit wriggling into a narrow slit in the pile of concrete and metal, then sliding back out with Azra, clad only in a T-shirt.
“Praise be!” someone shouted. “Get out of the way!” another yelled as the aid team and bystanders cleared a path to an ambulance.
“Bringing them out is such happiness. I wouldn’t be happier if they gave me tons of money,” said rescuer Oytun Gulpinar.
The pockets of jubilation were tempered by many more discoveries of bodies by thousands of aid workers in the worst-hit city of Ercis and other communities in eastern Turkey devastated by the earthquake.
Even rescues were tinged with sadness: 10-year-old Serhat Gur was pulled alive from the rubble of a building after being trapped for 54 hours, only to die a short time later at a hospital.
Some 2,000 buildings collapsed, but the fact the quake hit in daytime, when many people were out of their homes, averted worse disaster.
Close to 500 aftershocks have rattled the area, according to Turkey’s Kandilli seismology center. A strong one on Tuesday sent residents rushing into the streets in panic while sparking a riot by prisoners in the city of Van, 55 miles south of Ercis. The U.S. Geological Survey put that temblor at a magnitude of 5.7.