KAHRAMANMARAS, TURKEY — Turkish rescuers on Thursday pulled a 17-year-girl from the rubble of last week’s devastating earthquake, as hopes fade of finding more survivors.
Aleyna Olmez was rescued 248 hours after the 7.8-magnitude quake flattened entire cities, killing nearly 40,000 people across southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria.
“She looked to be in good health. She opened and closed her eyes,” coal miner Ali Akdogan, who took part in the rescue effort, told AFP in Kahramanmaras, a city near the quake’s epicentre.
“We have been working here in this building for a week now… We came here with the hope of hearing sounds,” he said.
“We are happy whenever we find a living thing — even a cat.”
The girl’s uncle tearfully hugged the rescuers one by one, saying: “We will never forget you.”
But after the rescue, Turkish soldiers told the media and locals to leave the scene because teams were starting to pull corpses out of the rubble.
Officials and medics said 36,187 people had died in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria from the February 6 earthquake and aftershocks, bringing the official confirmed total to 39,875.
Turkey has suspended rescue operation in some reqions. The government in war-torn Syria has done the same in areas under its control.