(CNN) At least three other people, including two minors, were pulled incredibly alive from the rubble of a devastating earthquake 10 days after it struck parts of Turkey and Syria.
A 17-year-old Aleyna Ölmez was dubbed a “miracle girl” when she was pulled alive from the rubble in Turkey on Thursday, 248 hours after the February 6 quake, as rescue efforts shifted to salvage operations ten days after the disaster.
Her rescue was later followed by that of Neslihan Kilic, 30, and a 12-year-old boy named Osman, who told rescuers there were other people buried nearby.
At least 43,885 people have died in Turkey and neighboring Syria after the powerful 7.8 magnitude quake, authorities said. Efforts to recover survivors have been hampered by a cold winter spell in quake-hit regions as authorities grapple with the logistical challenges of transporting relief supplies to northwest Syria amid an acute humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by years of political wrangling .
Amid accusations in Turkey over the extent of the damage, at least 54 people were arrested in the country in connection with buildings destroyed or damaged by the earthquake, according to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced an appeal for $1 billion in support for Turkey’s earthquake relief efforts over three months. It comes two days after the UN launched an emergency appeal for $397 million in earthquake relief for Syria, also covering a three-month period, as humanitarian organizations stress the need for psychological and mental health services in the affected regions.
Aleyna Olmez is rescued alive from the rubble of a collapsed apartment in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, on February 16, 2023.
The crew of the Turkish state news channel TRT Haber visited the teenager Aleyna Ölmez in the hospital room after the rescue operation and spoke to her, her doctors and relatives. TRT-Haber cameras, speaking from her hospital bed, showed Aleyna’s eyes open, her body covered to the neck and tubes inserted for oxygen supplements.
Alyena was taken directly to Kahramanmaraş Sutcu Imam University Faculty of Medicine after Thursday’s rescue operation.
A video showed Aleyna’s aunt and grandmother next to her bed, touching her face and kissing her hands. When the TRT Haber correspondent used a microphone to ask Aleyna how she was, Aleyna shook her head and smiled.
Miners from the rescue team gather after Aleyna Olmez, the so-called ‘miracle girl’, was pulled alive from the rubble in southern Turkey on Thursday.
Aleyna’s doctor, Prof. Dilber, expressed great surprise at Aleyna’s good health, telling TRT Haber, “She couldn’t eat or drink the whole time (when she was under the rubble), but she was still in good condition.”
dr Dilber added, “Since she couldn’t move at all under the rubble, we could say her inactivity protected Aleyna a little bit and she needed energy and persevered through this time, but I don’t think we can explain it that way. “
When Aleyna was taken to the hospital, she was conscious and was speaking to the doctors. “We have made the necessary interventions. Body images were taken and blood tests were carried out. She was in very good condition,” said Dr. Dilber versus TRT Haber.
“There was no hypothermia. Blood tests also showed very good kidney functions. Muscle enzymes were not too high. Fluid therapy began immediately. After the fluid therapy, Aleyna still spoke to us very well,” he added.
Hacer Atlas, a member of the search and rescue team that rescued the young earthquake victim, told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency that they were able to reach Aleyna after a long and tiring effort.
“First we held her hand, then we took her out. She is in very good condition and she can communicate. I hope we continue to get good news about her,” Atlas said of the moment they found Aleyna.
TRT Haber later reported that Aleyna was taken to the Turkish capital, Ankara, by plane.
Kilic, the 30-year-old woman who was rescued on Thursday, 258 hours after the quake, was also found in Kahramanmaras, where she and her family lived on the seventh floor of the Ebrar residential complex, according to her brother. In-laws Gazi Yildirim.
Yildirim told CNN Turk that her husband and two children — two and five years old — were still under the rubble.
Despite the violence of the earthquake and the long wait for her rescue, Kilic was able to speak and tell rescuers her name as they pulled her from the rubble, he said.
Yildirim started crying when he told the CNN Turk reporter that they had already prepared Kilic’s grave.
“May Allah save others. She has two children and a husband who is still under the rubble,” Yildirim said.
Hours later, a 12-year-old boy named Osman was also rescued in southern Hatay province.
According to CNN Turk, Osman also appeared to be in relatively good condition and was found seated in a hole surrounded by beams and rubble. He was taken to a hospital for a medical examination.
Osman informed the rescue team that another person was at the same location. Police searched the area with guide dogs after Osman was rescued and intensified their operations in search of the second person.
The three join a small group of earthquake survivors who have defied predictions earlier this week that the time to survive was up. On Tuesday, a 77-year-old woman was pulled alive from the rubble around 212 hours after the earthquake hit the city of Adiyaman, Anadolu reported.
CNN’s Richard Roth, Amy Cassidy, Talia Kayali and Rhea Mogul contributed coverage.