To save one life is to save all of humanity…
During the rescue of a family from under the rubble yesterday, Tuesday, February 7, in the village of Bisnia, west of #Idlib, #Syria.#earthquake pic.twitter.com/2d4mdd1I0U
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 7, 2023
Nearly two weeks after a devastating 7.8 magnitude Turkey-Syria earthquake, first responders are continuing to search and rescue survivors. Over 40,000 people lost their lives in the natural disaster, and that number is expected to climb. But people are staying strong and holding out hope as rescuers continue to find survivors among the rubble. And, as these survivors emerge, the stories of their strength and courage are astounding.
In the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, near the earthquake's epicenter, two brothers survived for nearly 200 hours under the rubble of a collapsed building. Abdulbaki Yeninar, 21, and Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17, stayed alive by rationing protein powder and drinking their own urine. Miraculously, their mother also survived. She was rescued two days earlier with minor injuries.
The Yeninar brothers are not the only survivors being discovered ten days after the earthquake rocked central Turkey and northern Syria. In Turkey, rescue crews are digging deep tunnels through the wreckage to pull out survivors, with some of the rescues being broadcast on the state-run television channel TRT. These rescues are giving comfort to a grieving nation and encouraging first responders to keep up their search even in frigid temperatures.
Two brothers, Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17, and Baki Yeninar were rescued in Kahramanmaras, 198 hours after the deadly earthquakes https://t.co/0r0XUOuH8x pic.twitter.com/LmNjrl0Kp1
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) February 14, 2023
In waiting to be rescued, many survivors are finding strength they didn't know they had. This was true for 33-year-old Necla Camuz, who was trapped inside her home in Turkey's Hatay province with her 10-day-old son, Yagiz, in her arms. She waited for over 90 hours before being rescued. To survive, she breastfed her baby, who had been resting on her chest at the time of the earthquake. Camuz, who did not eat or drink anything, occasionally pounded on the overturned dresser that had saved her and her child, hoping to draw the attention of rescuers.
While Camuz was terrified that they would never be found, she looked to her infant as a source of strength. “I think if my baby hadn't been strong enough to handle this, I wouldn't have been either,” she shared, adding that she was happy that he was too young to remember what had happened.
Eventually, Camuz heard the sound of barking dogs and, shortly after, they were rescued. When the rescue team asked how old her son was, she didn't know how to respond. She knew he was 10 days old at the time of the earthquake, but wasn't sure how many days she had been trapped. All told, she and Yagiz had spent about four days waiting to be discovered.
🌐NEW – Quake death toll in Turkey alone has surpassed 20,000 people
The total death toll in Turkey and Syria surpassed 22,000 on Friday.#deprem #Verin #TurkeySyriaEarthquake #TurkeyQuake #turkeyearthquake2023 #TurkeyEarthquake #depremzede#Koca #Yağız #polis pic.twitter.com/yZ2EdHELvQ
— June 24 (@june24news) February 10, 2023
This story has an even happier ending, as when she arrived at that hospital, Camuz was given that news that her husband and 3-year-old son had also survived. They had been in a separate room of the apartment when the earthquake struck and had been taken to a different hospital after sustaining injuries to their legs and feet. While the family has lost their home, they have now been reunited after this harrowing experience.
Yagiz is not the only newborn to have survived the earthquake. In Syria, the story of a baby who has now been named Aya, which means miracle in Arabic, captivated the nation. Aya was discovered by rescuers about 10 hours after the earthquake, still attached to her mother by her umbilical cord. Aya's mother had given birth to her under the rubble of their home but hadn't survived. Neither had Aya's father or her four siblings. But Aya, who is now doing well at the hospital, has captured the imagination of the nation.
In the long, dark, and seemingly endless nights of search and rescue among those destroyed buildings of NW #Syria, hope to find life under the rubble keeps us going. Every person maters. No one left behind.
Harem – Idlib – Feb 10, 2023#earthquake pic.twitter.com/W9444p1t9S
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 11, 2023
Thousands of people have contacted the hospital where she is being treated with offers to adopt her. At the moment she is being breastfed by the wife of the hospital manager, who has a 4-month-old baby. They will care for her until she is released from the hospital and taken into the care of her great-uncle.
But babies and young children aren't the only survivors. Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu announced on Wednesday that a 77-year-old woman was rescued in the city of Adiyaman. Fatma Gungor was trapped for 212 hours before being freed and reunited with her family. Finding Gungor provided new motivation for rescuers, who have been working around the clock.
“I'm so excited, I don't know what to say. We almost got to the point of giving up,” one rescuer told the Turkish news channel TRT Haber. “We didn't even eat. Thank God it has ended well.”
A woman and her two children were rescued alive miraculously 228 hours after the twin earthquakes hit southern Türkiye on Feb. 06
🕙Rescued 10 days after
👩👧👦They are from Hatay province
🚑Taken to the nearest hospital https://t.co/LgM4Bdt65J pic.twitter.com/f8SM7ZcjRu
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) February 15, 2023
According to CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, it's rare to find survivors after being trapped for more than 100 hours, but low temperatures might be a factor in helping people. “The cold weather is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes it very difficult, it is below freezing right now… On the other hand, it may reduce the demands for water. Perhaps that is playing into this,” he said.
Miracles are continuing to happen. Ten days after the earthquake, rescuer Mehmet Eryilma pulled a woman named Ela and her two children from the wreckage of a collapsed apartment in Turkey's Hatay province. The first thing Ela asked him was what day it was. Incredibly, the three only suffered from dehydration.
As always, these stories give hope that there are many people still waiting to be rescued. But once pulled from the rubble, there is a hard road ahead as people lost their homes, and many have also lost their families. If you are looking for a way to help, consider donating to Global Giving's earthquake fund.
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