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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Five ‘miracle’ rescues amid devastation

Search and rescue teams have pulled out survivors from collapsed buildings days after the disaster
Rescuers carry carry out a woman from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay province on 14 February (Reuters)

The death toll following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on 6 February continues to rise, now nearing 42,000 people. However, search and rescue teams continue their efforts in hope of finding more survivors. 

Experts say that 90 percent of survivors trapped under the rubble are found during the first 72 hours as beyond this point a lack of food or water, untreated injuries, and the effect of freezing weather conditions all take their toll.

Yet despite this rescue workers have pulled people alive from collapsed buildings more than a week after the tragedy.

Here, Middle East Eye looks at some of those "miracle" rescues:   

1.  Young girl rescued after 178 hours 

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More than a week after the earthquake, rescuers in the city of Adiyaman found a six-year-old girl named Miray in the ruins of a collapsed building.

A video posted of the moment Miray was rescued shows search teams erupting in joy as she is pulled out from the rubble, shouting "Allahu akbar" ("God is great").

Miray was carried away on a stretcher, while rescue workers continued the search for her older sister. 

 2. Syrian baby born under the rubble

The birth of a Syrian baby girl under the rubble made headlines globally and prompted more than a thousand offers to adopt the orphan. She was given the name Aya.

Sadly, the child's mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, died in the rubble of her home after giving birth, along with her four other children.

Aya's story prompted more than a thousand offers of adoption (AP/Ghaith Alsayed)

Rescue workers found the baby ten hours after the earthquake struck the city of Jenderis. Aya was still attached to her mother by her umbilical cord.

She was subsequently taken to a hospital where emergency workers said she was in stable condition but was being closely monitored.

The girl's great-uncle, Salah al-Badran, will be her guardian after she is released from the hospital. 

3. Man celebrates mother’s rescue after a week under rubble

In what has become one of the most moving photographs of the aftermath of the earthquake, a man was pictured punching the air in joy after rescuers pulled his mother out from a collapsed building. 

Saadet Sendag spent 177 hours under the building in Hatay province, which crumbled when the earthquake struck.  Her son was seen crying out in elation with tears in his eyes. 

turkey quake
A man celebrates as mother is rescued following the earthquake (Anadolu Agency/Arif Hudaverdi Yaman)

The team involved in the rescue was made up of local Turkish rescuers and volunteers from Gulf states, including Bahrain and Oman.

4. Teenager survives four days under rubble

When 17-year-old Adnan Muhammet Korkut was pulled out from under the rubble by rescue workers he told them that he was waiting for them to come and find him. “Thank God you came. I thank all of you,” he said. 

In a video that went viral online, the teenager from the Sehitkamil district of Gaziantep explained that he had to drink his own urine to survive. 

He was rescued on 9 February, days after the earthquake struck.

The teenager emerged from under the rubble to the cheers of people who were elated to learn that he had survived. 

5.  Two men were rescued 261 hours after the earthquake

Rescuers in Antakya district found 26-year-old Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu and Mustafa Avci, 34, after the pair spent close to 11 days under the rubble.

According to Turkey's public broadcaster TRT, elated relatives rushed to the hospital where the pair were being treated after hearing of their remarkable survival.

In another video shared by the outlet, Avci talks to his brother on the phone on his way to the hospital with his sibling in clear shock.

"Brother, are you Abdulkadir's brother?" he asks in disbelief, to which Avci responds, "exactly, exactly my dear brother", causing his brother to break down in tears.

During the call, Avci also asks about his parents, who both survived the earthquake.

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