Earthquake survivors first concern after 10 days under rubble in

Earthquake survivor’s first concern after 10 days under rubble in Turkey: “How’s the mother?” -CNN

(CNN) “How is my mom and everyone else?” the man on the stretcher asks calmly into a cell phone. Crying in disbelief, his friend replies, “Everyone’s fine… they’re all waiting for you… I’ll come to you.”

Such were the emotional exchanges following the rescue of 33-year-old Mustafa Avci, who was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey’s southern Hatay province 261 hours after a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the region on February 6 became.

On Friday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca released a video showing the phone conversation between Avci and his friend, in a powerful reminder that even now – 11 days after the quake – it is still possible to find survivors against all odds.

The rescue of Avci late Thursday night came as the death toll in Turkey and Syria rose to at least 43,885 people, officials said.

In the video, Avci can be seen wearing a neck brace and appears wide-eyed with hope as he asks, “Did everyone escape okay…? Let me hear their voices, if for a moment.”

His friend sobs back, “I’m driving…I’m coming to you…Brother, I’m coming.”

Avci then kisses the hand of the rescuer holding the phone and thanks him. “May God bless you a thousand times over,” he says.

Koca, the minister, said both Avci and a second man, Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26, were rescued from the ruins of a private hospital building around the same time.

Sakiroglu was in hospital for an examination when the quake broke, his father told CNN affiliate CNN Turk.

The two men were found when a rescue team discovered a leg dangling from a pile of debris after a machine operator cleared the surface debris.

The men were taken to Hatay’s makeshift hospital for treatment, the health minister said.

Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, a 26-year-old man, was rescued on Thursday, 261 hours after the earthquake struck Turkey.

CNN’s senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is in southern Turkey, said it was unusual for people to be trapped in rubble for more than 100 hours and the most successful rescues were usually within 24 hours.

“These are remarkable stories and people rise up … in these situations,” he said.

The rescue of the two men follows that of a 13-year-old boy named Mustafa in Antakya, Hatay province, on Wednesday – 228 hours after the quake.

Mustafa’s survival was “certainly a miracle,” rescue worker Özer Aydinli said in an interview with Gupta on Thursday.

Aydinli said he thought his colleagues were “hallucinating” and he assumed the boy “died with his eyes open”. But the child cried out, “Brother! I can’t feel my legs. Save me!”

A crew of more than 70 people then rushed over to help.

“Even now, tears come to our eyes from time to time,” said Aydinli, referring to the boy’s rescue. “He’s perfectly healthy and conscious. Hopefully he’ll be better.”

Rescuers find a 13-year-old boy named Mustafa 228 hours after the devastating earthquake.

“People have gone through hell”

Rescue teams are still trying to reach hard-to-reach areas in Turkey and Syria, but the number of people being found alive is falling.

Although donations are pouring in from around the world, freezing winter temperatures have left many survivors homeless and without access to basic needs.

“Many lives were saved, many people were pulled from the rubble by their neighbors, their friends, their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Frontline health workers have done an amazing job in both countries,” according to the World The World Health Organization (WHO) emergency director, Mike Ryan, said at a briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.

WHO said it was particularly concerned for people in north-west Syria, a rebel-held region with little access to aid. The United Nations health agency said it had asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to open more border crossings with Turkey to allow aid.

“It is clear that the area of ​​northwestern Syria is the area of ​​greatest concern right now,” Ryan said.

The delivery of aid to Syria has been constrained by restrictions on the cross-border mechanism agreed in the 2014 UN Security Council resolution to allow aid to cross four locations on the Turkish-Syrian border.

“The impact of the earthquake in the government-controlled areas of Syria is significant, but the services are there and there is access to these people,” Ryan said. “We have to remember here that we had 10 years of war in Syria. The healthcare system is surprisingly fragile. People have gone through hell.”

CNN’s Gul Tuysuz and Philip Wang contributed to this report.