BAYRAKLI: On Tuesday, 91 hours after a strong earthquake struck western Turkey, a three-year – old girl was rescued from the debris, giving a ray of light to mourning families as the death toll soared past 100.
But just hours after Ayda Gezgin was miraculously rescued in the hard-hit town of Bayrakli, rescuers discovered her mother girl Fidan’s lifeless body, 38, in the same room as their devastated flat, the Islamic charity of Turkey’s IHH said.
Depending on which bodies or survivors are rescued from the shattered slabs of highrise buildings levelled by Friday’s 7.0-magnitude quake, rescuers and families have been riding waves of feeling, from intense sorrow to elated relief.
As far as Athens was concerned, the quake killed two teens on their way home from school on the Greek island of Samos, where several homes collapsed.
But the majority of the damage hit in and around Turkey’s Aegean resort town of Izmir, where Tuesday’s death toll reached 107.
None of the Turkish coastal towns have been struck harder than Bayrakli, a suburban district dotted with apartment buildings on seven and eight storeys, hundreds of which have either been battered or entirely demolished.
Within a matter of hours, the tragedy and sheer joy felt by the Gezgin family encapsulates the emotions tearing apart Izmir and the whole country as Turkey recovers from its greatest disaster in years.
On their fourth day of round-the-clock work, rescuers, tired but optimistic, were zeroing in on four buildings where they thought they could still locate someone alive.
The applause and yells of “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Best” rang out as soon as they knew that they had saved Ayda.
“In the 91st hour, we have seen a miracle,” Izmir mayor Tunc Soyer tweeted.
“The name of the miracle is Ayda,” tweeted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan minutes later.
“You have inspired new confidence for us with your smiling eyes. Yeah, thank goodness. Get well fast, my gorgeous little girl.
The rescue came a day after a four-year – old and a 14-year-old were found alive in the same district, despite ongoing concerns of aftershocks, giving support to rescue staff.
As she was carried to a waiting ambulance in a gold foil blanket, Ayda called for her mum, said a correspondent at the scene.
The Milliyet daily said that her mother had returned home just 10 minutes before the tragedy hit, after taking the girl out to the neighbourhood park.
At the time of the quake, her dad, who survived, wasn’t at home.
“Slowly, slowly,” the emergency workers said to each other as they dragged the body of the mother out of the rubble.
Some of the same people had embraced each other hours ago and shed tears of joy, remembering that they had rescued a little girl who appeared amazingly unharmed and utterly calm.
I asked her, “Are you all right??” I’ve been curious to see if she’s all right. She called for Ayran,’ said Ahmet Celik, a rescue worker, referring to a salty yoghurt drink.
He said, smiling, “I told her that Ayran would come later.” “She loves Ayran.” Rescuers said they realised that on Monday night someone was still alive at the site, before working painstakingly to find her.
“It was the voice of a girl, a female voice,” fellow rescue worker Ibrahim Topal said. “The hand was seen by my friend Ahmet, and when we opened (the room) a little further, the face of Ayda.” Topal said that the girl was found in the kitchen, in a small space created by the oven and other white goods.
It didn’t matter how exhausted we were from the time we saw the sound of her. It once again gave us momentum,’ he said. We were so pleased. “After the earthquake, Turkey has recorded over 1,500 repeated tremors, including 44 that were above four in magnitude.”
Published in Dharti News, November 4th, 2020