World News

Incredible Syria and Turkey earthquake survival stories as death toll hits 20,000

The death toll from twin earthquakes which battered southeast Turkey and northern Syria earlier this week has now surpassed 20,000, with the time left to find survivors running out. 

It is already the deadliest natural disaster to hit Turkey since 1939, with the grim casualty milestone coming this evening and UN and WHO experts expecting it to rise further.

The response of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to the catastrophe has drawn harsh criticism, and tens of thousands of displaced people who escaped the immediate damage of the quakes now contend with bitter winter temperatures and a lack of supplies.

But despite the harrowing scenes of death and destruction seen the world over, stunning stories of bravery and fortune continue to emerge from the rubble.

More than 72 hours have passed since the quakes, and those still trapped under the rubble are thought to have little chance of survival, but each passing hour seems to bring another glimmer of hope as another child or family is rescued. 

Here, MailOnline takes a look at some of the most inspiring and heartwarming tales of endurance and survival to have surfaced thus far. 

The boy could not move but was able to crane his neck to take a sip of water

He was in desperate need of sustenance and the rescuers managed to reach him with water

Rescuers fed a young Syrian boy water from a bottlecap through a gap in the debris. They later managed to free him after 45 hours of agony

36-year-old Yilmaz Cetin is rescued from under the rubble after 77 hours of 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit multiple provinces of Turkiye included Adiyaman, Turkiye on February 09, 2023

36-year-old Yilmaz Cetin is rescued from under the rubble after 77 hours of 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit multiple provinces of Turkiye included Adiyaman, Turkiye on February 09, 2023

A rescuer cleans the face of baby boy Kerem Agirtas, a 20-day-old survivor who was pulled from under the rubble, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, February 8, 2023

A rescuer cleans the face of baby boy Kerem Agirtas, a 20-day-old survivor who was pulled from under the rubble, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, February 8, 2023

The White Helmet volunteers rescue a child from under rubble, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Jandaris, Syria February 8, 2023

The White Helmet volunteers rescue a child from under rubble, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Jandaris, Syria February 8, 2023

Strawberry the cat was freed from the rubble but clearly wanted to remain by his owner's side

Strawberry the cat was freed from the rubble but clearly wanted to remain by his owner’s side

One agonising video captured yesterday showed a young Syrian boy named Muhammed Ahmed putting on a brave face despite being stuck under debris for 45 hours.

Rescuers had managed to reach the child, whose face was covered in dust and scratches from the building’s collapse, but were unable to extract him from the concrete and he was beginning to fade due to dehydration and utter exhaustion.

Refusing to let the boy waste away, the rescuers poured water into a bottle cap and slid it through a gap in the debris. Muhammed sipped the fluid down and despite his awful predicament flashed a little smile back up at his rescuers.

The touching moment between one desperate boy and his rescuers immediately went viral, and with good reason. 

As the death toll continues to increase and analysts discuss the facts, statistics and figures related to the earthquake, the clip of a fatigued and injured Muhammed grinning innocently at his rescuers after 45 hours of suffering serves as a stark reminder of the human cost. 

Hours after the earthquake demolished huge swathes of northern Syria, one gut-wrenching clip published Tuesday showed the moment a newborn baby was found under the rubble. 

Muhammed sipped the fluid down and despite his awful predicament flashed a little smile back up at his rescuers

Muhammed sipped the fluid down and despite his awful predicament flashed a little smile back up at his rescuers

Emergency personnel carry 16-year-old Melda on a stretcher after saving her from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, southern Turkey, on February 9, 2023

Emergency personnel carry 16-year-old Melda on a stretcher after saving her from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, southern Turkey, on February 9, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hugs a quake victim on February 09, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hugs a quake victim on February 09, 2023

Seven-year-old girl Ikra Tasci is rescued by Israeli army, Hatzalah United and Turkish rescue teams after three days under the rubble, 09 February 2023

Seven-year-old girl Ikra Tasci is rescued by Israeli army, Hatzalah United and Turkish rescue teams after three days under the rubble, 09 February 2023

The mother was buried when the devastating earthquake hit her home in Jinderis  and reduced the building to nothing but bricks and mortar.

She went into labour moments after the horrific incident and tragically died just moments after giving birth

The baby’s immediate family – both parents and four siblings – were also killed, but she was later discovered by other relatives who heard faint cries coming from the debris of the family home. 

They dug with their bare hands to free the rubble and to their utter amazement found the baby, still alive, and attached to her dead mother via the umbilical cord. 

Cutting and tying the cord they rushed the hours-old child to receive medical treatment in the neighbouring town of Afrin, where hospital manager Khaled Radwan took her in as his own. 

When asked by the Daily Telegraph what the baby would be called, he replied, ‘Aya’ – which translates from Arabic as ‘miracle’. 

A fitting name for a girl who started her life buried under tons of concrete.

A baby girl who was born under the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey receives treatment inside an incubator at a children's hospital in the town of Afrin, Aleppo province, Syria

A baby girl who was born under the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey receives treatment inside an incubator at a children’s hospital in the town of Afrin, Aleppo province, Syria

The baby girl, who was born while her mother was buried underneath the rubble of a five-story apartment building, has wounds on her back from the rubble she was buried under

The baby girl, who was born while her mother was buried underneath the rubble of a five-story apartment building, has wounds on her back from the rubble she was buried under

People wait as rescuers carry out search operations among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, on February 9, 2023

People wait as rescuers carry out search operations among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, on February 9, 2023

Emergency personnel conduct a rescue operation to save a teenage girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, southern Turkey, on February 9, 2023

Emergency personnel conduct a rescue operation to save a teenage girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, southern Turkey, on February 9, 2023

A pair of videos have shown rescuers working to save not only humans, but also their beloved pets.

In Hatay, Turkey, a bunch of rescuers were seen frantically pulling at debris in an attempt to extract university student Kerem Cetin from a collapsed building.

But Kerem refused to let his rescuers save him without first ensuring his cat, a fluffy white and ginger mog called Strawberry, was safe and sound. 

The red-helmeted rescuers duly turned their attention to the cat, who was lodged under rubble alongside his owner and wrapped in what looked to be a blanket.

It appeared the love Kerem had for his pet was mutual – when the rescuers managed to free the feline, he clawed and scratched at the blanket, seemingly reluctant to leave Kerem’s side. 

Once he had been pulled out, however, he quickly calmed down and the rescuers delighted in the touching moment before returning to extract Kerem. Both were eventually rescued and sustained only minor injuries.

In the same city, a separate video showed a little white dog buried up to his neck in debris, looking on desperately for help. A search party noticed the hound and loosened the rocks around his body as they fed him water from their bare hands. 

The mutt waited patiently and duly lapped up the water before he eventually being pulling free. He was evidently in no rush to escape and sat very happily in the arms of his rescuers. 

A cat is rescued from rubble in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay Province, Turkey, February 7, 2023

A cat is rescued from rubble in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay Province, Turkey, February 7, 2023

A search party noticed the hound and loosened the rocks around his body as they fed him water from their bare hands

A search party noticed the hound and loosened the rocks around his body as they fed him water from their bare hands

Rescuers in Turkey extract a young girl from rubble in Kahramanmaras

Rescuers in Turkey extract a young girl from rubble in Kahramanmaras 

Five-year-old Mir Berzan Bagis is rescued by search and rescue teams from under rubble of a collapsed building 73 hours after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkey's Kahramanmaras, on February 09, 2023

Five-year-old Mir Berzan Bagis is rescued by search and rescue teams from under rubble of a collapsed building 73 hours after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkey’s Kahramanmaras, on February 09, 2023

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan dispatched his presidential plane to fly 16 babies, all of whom were found alive but alone in the aftermath of the earthquakes, to safety in the capital city of Ankara. 

The plane was put on standby for rescue missions and other earthquake-related activities, including carrying medical teams and aid to regions of the country, in the aftermath of the tremors earlier this week.

It is also being used to transport critically injured people to Ankara for treatment. 

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones. They were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenboğa Airport.   

From there, they were taken to Etlik City Hospital for treatment. All 16 are said to be doing well.

Heartwarming images show the infants in the arms of their rescuers on board the plane, wrapped in multiple blankets amid a cold snap in the country. 

Babies rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras are transferred to Ankara by Turkish Presidential Plane

Babies rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras are transferred to Ankara by Turkish Presidential Plane 

The babies were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenbo¿a Airport

The babies were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenboğa Airport

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones within Turkey

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones within Turkey 

The babies, who are believed to be unharmed, will now be taken into care in the children's organisation affiliated to the Ministry of Family and Social Services

The babies, who are believed to be unharmed, will now be taken into care in the children’s organisation affiliated to the Ministry of Family and Social Services

The White Helmet volunteers pull out a child from under rubble as they rescue him, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Jinderis, Syria

The White Helmet volunteers pull out a child from under rubble as they rescue him, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Jinderis, Syria

The tragedy may be localised to Turkey and Syria, but aid organisations and governments from around the world have flocked to the region to offer their support and lifesaving expertise.

One rescue effort, coordinated by British and German workers, saw a Turkish mother and her little boy extracted from the rubble of a building in Kahramanmaras, close to the epicentre of the disaster.

The pair had been trapped under a mountain of debris which looked more like a natural cave formation than the remnants of a building, such was the quantity of the rocks and stones that surrounded them. 

But despite spending more than 72 hours unable to move, both were hauled to their freedom after an eight-hour rescue operation and have survived despite sustaining considerable injuries and severe dehydration.

A boy and her mother are rescued by German (yellow) and British (orange) rescue teams after an 8 hour operation in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Thursday, February 9, 2023

A boy and her mother are rescued by German (yellow) and British (orange) rescue teams after an 8 hour operation in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Thursday, February 9, 2023

Both suffered significant injuries and were dramatically dehydrated but are making their recovery

Both suffered significant injuries and were dramatically dehydrated but are making their recovery

The pair had been trapped under a mountain of debris which looked more like a natural cave formation than the remnants of a building

The pair had been trapped under a mountain of debris which looked more like a natural cave formation than the remnants of a building

There are many stories of human triumph and survival coming out of Turkey and Syria - but they are far outweighed by an eye-watering death toll of more than 19,000

There are many stories of human triumph and survival coming out of Turkey and Syria – but they are far outweighed by an eye-watering death toll of more than 19,000

Seven-year-old girl Ikra Tasci is rescued by Israeli army, Hatzalah United and Turkish rescue teams after three days under the rubbles of a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Turkey, 09 February 2023

Seven-year-old girl Ikra Tasci is rescued by Israeli army, Hatzalah United and Turkish rescue teams after three days under the rubbles of a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Turkey, 09 February 2023

One little girl was found protecting her younger brother after they were trapped under the debris of their collapsed home following the series of devastating earthquakes.

Video footage captured the moving moment the two frightened young siblings were found by rescuers amid the rubble in Syria.

Seven-year-old Mariam and her younger brother Ilaaf were trapped in the debris for some 36 hours.

In the clip, she told the emergency worker: ‘Sir, if you rescue me and my brother, I’ll do whatever you want. But get us out of here.’

The children were stuck under rubble at their home in Besnaya-Bseineh near Haram, Syria.

The seven-year-old called Mariam, and her younger brother Ilaaf were trapped in the debris for some 36 hours

The seven-year-old called Mariam, and her younger brother Ilaaf were trapped in the debris for some 36 hours

In the footage, Mariam’s younger sibling can be seen trapped under the concrete ruins as responders scramble to rescue the pair.

The girl then moves her arm over her younger brother’s head to protect him.  

A photo was later shared of the two kids resting on a bed after they were rescued from their horrific ordeal.

Their father Mustafa Zuhir Al-Sayed said he, his wife, and their three children were sleeping when the earthquake hit.

He said: ‘Rubble began falling over our head and we stayed two days under the rubble.’They were all rescued from the devastated home.

Via Dailymail World News

Most Popular

To Top