Turkey earthquake: Boy among four survivors found in the rubble in last 24 hours
Almost two weeks after two earthquakes and hundreds of powerful aftershocks struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, survivors are still being pulled from the rubble.
Turkey’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca, praised the efforts of rescue workers on Friday for finding a 14-year-old boy and three men from the rubble nearly 11 days after the huge earthquake.
Covered in a blanket and with a neck brace, the teenager, called Osman, was initially given first aid by rescue workers and then rushed to a waiting ambulance.
Rescuers found Osman overnight in Hatay province at the epicentre of the earthquake after hearing sounds in the rubble, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
Rescue efforts, although winding down, continue even as the death toll steadily climbs, reaching more than 38,044 in Turkey.
An hour after Osman was found, two other men were found in Antakya.
Images shared by Koca show a 33-year-old man, Mustafa Avci, rescued from the rubble 261 hours after the earthquake struck and being administered first aid in a field hospital.
The DHA news agency named the other survivor as Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26. He was retrieved from the same building as Avci.
Footage has been released of Avci speaking to his relatives over the phone - who were very audibly emotional that he had been found.
Kissing the hand of the search-and-rescue volunteer who had pulled him out of the rubble, Avci asked if the rest of the family was fine. To his elation everyone in his family was accounted for.
Sakiroglu’s father was also overjoyed that his son was found alive, telling reporters: “We are at home now. I am very happy. May God make Turkey happy. I myself came out of the wreckage. I escaped through the other door on the first day with my own means. Mehmet’s wife and child were also removed on the first day."
Another 45-year-old man, Hakan Yasinoglu, was pulled alive from debris in Hatay province on Friday evening almost 278 hours after the devastating earthquakes.
How long can people live under rubble?
Although most rescues happen in the first 24 hours after a natural disaster, experts said people can survive up to a week or more trapped under fallen debris depending on several factors, including whether they have access to water and air, weather conditions and the extent of their injuries.
The two earthquakes hit on 6 February. In Turkey, they were centred in Kahramanmaras and shook nine other provinces: Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.
Experts say 90 percent of survivors under the rubble are found in the first 72 hours.
But news of people being rescued has continued to emerge in the days following, with miraculous examples of survival including that of a 10-day-old baby, who had spent half his life under the rubble, being saved along with his mother after 90 hours.
As rescue efforts continue, foreign emergency workers and the families of loved ones still lost have warned against using heavy machinery to clear away all the rubble because it could kill people who are still alive but trapped.
On social media, people are using the hashtag #EnkazKaldirmaDurmali, which translates as “debris removal must stop”.
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