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21 July, 2024
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Miracle rescues continue in quake-stricken Turkey

Turkey earthquake rescue continues almost 150 hours on: 'You are a miracle'

Source: BBC

By Samuel Horti

Rescuers have pulled a seven-month-old baby from the rubble of a building in Hatay, southern Turkey, 139 hours after Monday's deadly earthquake.

Elsewhere in Hatay, a 12-year-old girl, Cudie, was saved after being trapped for 147 hours.

State media also reported a 13-year-old saved in Gaziantep on Sunday, with rescuers saying: "You are a miracle."

The number of people confirmed to have died in Turkey and Syria has risen to more than 33,000.

Syria has not reported an updated death toll since Friday, so the true number is likely higher.

Hopes are dwindling of finding many more survivors, and on the ground there is a sense that the rescue mission will soon end.

The Syrian Civil Defence Force, or White Helmets, which operates in in rebel-held areas of the country, has told the BBC that the group's search efforts are winding down.

But tens of thousands of rescuers continued their search overnight across affected areas in Turkey and Syria.

The seven-month-old baby, Hamza, was saved on Saturday, and footage from local authorities showed rescuers cheering and hugging one another.

Separate video from the Turkish health ministry showed a small girl in a neck brace looking around as she was carried on a stretcher in the same province later on Sunday morning.

And footage showed a father and daughter being pulled from a building in Hatay. "He wants two cups of good tea," one of the rescuers said.

But as the rescue operations wind down, the focus turns to recovery - and of reckoning with the situation.

Thousands of buildings collapsed during the earthquake, raising questions about whether the natural disaster's impact was made worse by human failings.

Turkey's President Erdogan has admitted shortcomings in the response, but, during one visit to a disaster zone earlier in the week, appeared to blame fate.

"Such things have always happened," he said. "It's part of destiny's plan."

Officials say they have issued 113 arrest warrants in connection with the construction of buildings that collapsed, with 12 people taken into custody, including contractors.

Rescuers in Syria have criticised the international response to the disaster, with the UN's relief chief Martin Griffiths saying the world has "failed the people in north-west Syria".

"They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn't arrived," he said.

Ismail al Abdullah, of the White Helmets, told the BBC's Quentin Sommerville that the international community has "blood on its hands".

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