Elif Perincek is pictured at a hospital in Izmir, Turkey. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
For rescue teams in Izmir, Turkey, it was an emotion-laden moment on Monday. Onlookers both cheered and wept with relief as rescue workers extricated two girls alive from the rubble of collapsed apartment buildings almost three days after the region was jolted by a quake that killed scores of people.
Ambulances quickly carted the girls to hospital soon after the rescue.
Three-year-old Elif Perincek was rescued 65 hours after the 7.0-magnitude quake struck Turkey and Greece on Friday, the Turkish emergency authority said.
Local media showed a video of a little girl wrapped up in a foil blanket quickly taken to safety in the coastal town of Bayrakli – the hardest hit by the disaster. Rescue workers cheered her ‘arrival.’
"I'm so happy, God bless you. I'm reunited with Elif," her grandmother said. "My prayers were answered."
Elif Perincek holds the thumb of a rescue worker after she was rescued from the rubble. AP
State television later showed images of the girl, her right eye closed by a purple bruise, waving to the camera from her hospital bed, a doll resting on her chest.
Muammer Celik of the Istanbul fire department's search-and-rescue team told reporters that he thought Elif was dead when he reached her inside the wreckage.
"There was dust on her face, her face was white,” he said. "When I cleaned the dust from her face, she opened her eyes. I was astonished.”
Celik said: "it was a miracle, it was a true miracle.”
The girl would not let go of his hand throughout the rescue operation, Celik said, adding: "I am now her big brother.”
Still images taken from a video show rescue workers carrying Elif Perincek. Reuters
The girl was pictured holding Celik's thumb while being carried on a stretcher into a tent where she was treated before being taken to the hospital. Rescuers were seen shedding tears of joy and hugging each other.
Elif was the 106th person pulled out alive from collapsed buildings in Bayrakli, which included her mother and three siblings the day before.
But her rescued brother later died.
Turkish emergency authority also reported the rescue of 14-year-old Idil Sirin in Bayrakli, 58 hours after the quake hit, levelling buildings in both Turkey and Greece. But the family's joy was brief as the lifeless body of Idil's sister, Ipek, was found.
Rescue workers carry 14-year-old Idil Sirin who have been extricated from a collapsed building. AP
"I can't hear any sounds from my sister, she's dead," Idil told rescuers as she was being pulled out.
Rescue workers scrambling to find more survivors used listening devices to detect any signs of life.
"Can anyone hear me?” a team leader shouted, asking possible survivors to bang against surfaces three times if they could.
Turkey has a mix of older buildings and cheap or illegal construction.
The overall death toll in Friday's quake reached 87 on Monday after teams found more bodies.
The Turkish government's disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said 31 people died, the majority in Elazig but at least four in nearby Malatya, and 1,607 were injured.
After being trapped in the debris of a building in Izmir for almost 18 hours, a mother and three of her children were pulled to safety. A teenager and her dog were also saved.
The death toll from Friday’s earthquake in the Aegean Sea has reached 100, with the deaths of 98 people in Turkey’s western city of Izmir, disaster authorities said.
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