Turkey earthquake rescuers find 'miracle survivor', alive after 203 hours

More than 37,000 dead in Turkey and Syria

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Follow the latest news on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

A woman has been found alive buried under rubble 203 hours after an earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, with the death toll up to 37,000.

Rescue operations resumed on Tuesday in Turkey in the hope of finding survivors on the eighth day since the 7.8-magnitude quake hit the region.

It remains to be seen how high the death toll could climb after Turkey's Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said 42,000 buildings had either collapsed, were in urgent need of demolition or were severely damaged across 10 cities.

Damage in Syria is harder to assess, due to the patchwork of groups in control of affected areas, but on Tuesday the first UN teams reached the rebel-held northern city of Sarmada. The World Food Programme reached the area largely for an "assessment" mission, an official from the organisation said.

An ad hoc coalition of countries and aid agencies has begun delivering supplies to the hard-hit regions of northern Syria, where four million aid-dependent people reside, after the Syrian government allowed aid to pass through more than one border crossing.

It was announced on Monday that rescue operations in both Turkey and Syria would cease this week. Experts say the chance of finding survivors in rubble more than six days after an earthquake is extremely low and is almost zero at nine days.

And yet, on Tuesday morning in Hatay, Turkish media outlet TRT World reported that a woman had been rescued from under rubble after 203 hours, an incredible feat of survival.

Many children and adults have been rescued by domestic and international teams sent to assist Turkey in overcoming the devastation that spread 500 kilometres across after the earthquake struck the south of the country.

A Hungarian rescuer recalled late on Monday pulling a 17-year-old girl in Turkey trapped beneath rubble almost four days after last week's quake.

The task seemed almost impossible for 26-year-old Viktor Holczer, a Hungarian IT expert, who is part of the Hungarian team of Caritas Hungary and Budapest Rescue Service.

The girl, named Asya, was trapped under a collapsed apartment block in the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras.

Locals had told the rescuers that someone was trapped after which they searched through the rubble and heard a voice shouting for help.

Israeli rescuers helped the Hungarians with specialist equipment, which helped to detect where the girl was trapped.

It took about eight hours to lift her out on a stretcher, after rescuers had dug a narrow channel under the rubble.

"At each and every step, our heartbeat quickened as we felt we were one step closer to finally reaching her," Mr Holczer said in an interview with Reuters, on the team's arrival home at Budapest's international airport.

"We finally saw her hand. And it took another 15 minutes to get within an arm's reach from her, and then I stretched out and managed to grab her hand."

On Monday, rescuers pulled a six-year-old girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Antakya, one of the worst-hit cities.

The rescue of the girl, identified as Miray, 178 hours after the disaster struck a week ago, is considered extraordinary because the chances of finding survivors drops every 24 hours, experts say. Footage of the rescue was posted on Twitter by Turkey's defence ministry.

She was one of two found alive under rubble in Antakya after a joint team from Turkey and Oman rescued a woman identified as Serap Donmez, the TRT channel reported.

Rescue teams were still trying to find her sister and relatives.

Teams in southern Turkey's Hatay province cheered and clapped when a 13-year-old boy identified only by his first name, Kaan, was pulled from the rubble.

In Gaziantep province, rescue workers, including coal miners who secured tunnels with wooden supports, found a woman alive in the wreckage of a five-storey building.

Updated: February 14, 2023, 3:35 PM