ANTAKYA, Turkiye — The death toll in Turkiye and Syria from the earthquake that struck five days ago has surpassed 25,000.
Turkiye’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday raised the death toll in his country to 21,848, while in Syria, the reported number of dead was 3,553.
Some 80,104 people have been injured in Turkiye alone, Erdogan said, speaking in the city of Sanliurfa. A few survivors are still being pulled from the rubble, however, more than 130 hours after the quake.
Rescue teams in Turkiye on Saturday pulled to safety a family of five who survived inside their collapsed home for five days.
They first extricated mother and daughter Havva and Fatmagul Aslan from among a mound of debris in the hard-hit town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province, HaberTurk reported. The teams later reached the father, Hasan Aslan, but he insisted that his other daughter, Zeynep, and son Saltik Bugra be saved first.
Then, as the father was brought out, rescuers cheered and chanted “God is Great!” Two hours later, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and an hour after that a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay, nearly 132 hours after the quake. The rescues bring to 12 the number of people rescued Saturday, despite diminishing hopes amid freezing temperatures.
“What day is it?” 16-year-old Kamil Can Agas asked his rescuers after he was pulled out of the rubble in Kahramanmaras, according to NTV television.
Members of the mixed Turkish and Kyrgyz search teams embraced each other, as did the teenager’s cousins, with one of them calling out: “He is out, brother. He is out. He is here.”
The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation. Not everything ended so well, however. Rescuers reached a 13-year-old girl inside the debris of a collapsed building in Hatay province early on Saturday and intubated her. But she died before the medical teams could amputate a limb and free her from the rubble, Hurriyet newspaper reported.
Even though experts say trapped people can live for a week or more, the odds of finding more survivors were quickly waning. Rescuers were shifting to thermal cameras to help identify life amid the rubble, a sign of the weakness of any remaining survivors.