Heroes offer lifeline to Elazığ quake victims
ELAZIĞ – Demirören News Agency
Rescue workers dug through rubble after a powerful 6.8-magntiude earthquake hit Turkey’s eastern provinces of Elazığ and Malatya on Jan. 24 to find possible survivors and ensure those trapped under buildings stayed awake and conscious hours and days after the tremor in freezing weather conditions.
Conversations between people trapped under the rubble and rescuers were broadcast by Turkish televisions after the quake struck the eastern provinces at 20:55 on Jan. 24.
Rescue teams concentrated their efforts in the city’s Mustafapaşa neighborhood and the nearby town of Sivrice, the closest residential area to the quake’s epicenter.
In Mustafapaşa, 35-year-old Ayşe Yıldız and her two-year-old daughter Yüsra were trapped under the debris of an apartment building.
A gendarmerie personnel heard her voice and started speaking with Ayşe Yıldız.
“I’m having difficulties breathing … Take me out of this place, for God’s sake … Look, my child is dying,” Ayşe Yıldız was heard telling the gendarme.
“We will rescue you soon, my dear sister,” the gendarmerie officer responded.
First, Yüşra was pulled out of the debris after staying there for 24 hours. Her mother, whose arm was stuck under a concrete column, was taken out some four hours later. Both were admitted to a hospital immediately.
Another footage showed a national medical rescue team UMKE member speaking with a woman trapped under the debris via mobile phone.
The 45-year-old Azize Çelik told UMKE nurse Emine Kuştepe about the whereabouts of her eight other neighbors trapped under the debris.
Kuştepe asked Çelik, a Turkish speaker, to repeat after her in Kurdish to make them stay calm and breathe in and out slowly, so that so that dust does not fill in their mouths and noses. They were all rescued in the following hours.
“Azize became the hands, arms and eyes of eight other people in order to save their lives,” said Kuştepe, whose conversation was circulated widely on social media, receiving nationwide praise.
A couple, elsewhere, were saved by a Syrian migrant, who they said pulled them out of the destruction with his bare hands for three hours.
After being discharged from hospital, they met Mahmud el-Osman, hugging him and expressing their gratitude.
El-Osman, a student, was heading to the gym when the earthquake hit Elazığ’s Sürsürü neighborhood at 20:55.
He rushed to a nearby collapsed building and heard the voices of Dürdane and Zülküf Aydın. The couple were rescued by el-Osman and other young people helping him.
“He is our hero,” said Dürdane Aydın in tears, pointing to the Syrian student, who was also slightly wounded during the rescue effort.
“Now, I’m your mother and sister. I’ll never let you go,” she said.