The Daily Telegraph

Born beneath the rubble, now a sole survivor

- By James Crisp, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Beril Eski in Istanbul and Abbie Cheeseman

A BABY girl rescued after being born under the rubble of her home has provided a small symbol of hope after the earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria.

The dust-covered newborn was pulled from the wreckage of a fourstorey apartment building more than 10 hours after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in rebel-held northern Syria.

“Had the girl been left for an hour more, she would have died,” said Dr Hanu Maarouf, who is caring for the baby.

Her relations in the small Syrian town of Jindayris found her still attached to her mother by the umbilical cord.

“We heard a voice while we were digging,” Khalil al-suwadi said yesterday. “We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord. So we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital.”

The crying infant was the sole survivor among her immediate family of Monday’s pre-dawn earthquake, which flattened the her family home and killed her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, father, Abdullah, four siblings and an aunt.

Unicef said that “thousands of children” may have been killed after the most powerful earthquake in Syria and Turkey for almost a century. Three British citizens were reported missing after at least 6,200 people were killed in Turkey and Syria, where thousands are still waiting for rescue workers to arrive.

Authoritie­s said 4,544 people had died in Turkey and 1,712 in Syria, bringing the total to 6,256.

The rescued baby, who suffered cuts and bruises, was taken to a children’s hospital in the nearby town of Afrin, and placed in an incubator.

It is understood she is getting better by the hour and her relatives are at her side. Her condition was last night said to be stable.

The girl’s forehead and fingers were still blue from the cold and she remains on a drip.

Video footage of her escape was widely shared on social media on Monday. It showed a man sprinting from the rubble clutching the baby.

A second man brings a blanket to protect the child from the sub-zero temperatur­es, while a third yells for a car to take her to hospital

Rescue efforts have been further hampered by aftershock­s. One on Monday was almost as powerful as the first earthquake, while tremors with a magnitude of 7.6 and 5.5 were reported yesterday in central Anatolia in Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been criticised for his response to the disaster, said 13 million of the country’s population of 85 million had been affected.

The 68-year-old, who faces elections in June, declared a state of emergency in the 10 affected provinces for at least three months.

More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey alone, and about 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, said Fuat Oktay, the Turkish vice-president.

They huddled in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centres, while others spent the night outside in blankets gathered around fires.

The King told Mr Erdogan he was “shocked and profoundly saddened” by “these dreadful tragedies”.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, yesterday pledged to offer support to

those affected by the “incredibly tragic situation” in Turkey and Syria “as quickly as possible”.

Already 77 British search and rescue workers have arrived in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep along with teams from almost 30 other countries.

Rescue teams yesterday started to trickle into Hatay, the badly affected Turkish province on the border with Syria where many residents say they have not received help or seen a single emergency worker.

The building that houses the region’s disaster management agency has collapsed.

The airport is badly damaged, making it even harder to get help.

Lutfu Savas, governor of the province said almost 2,000 buildings, including three hospitals, the town hall and the firefighte­rs’ department, had been destroyed.

At Iskenderun hospital in the province, survivors peered through the wreckage searching for signs of life.

“I’m devastated. I see bodies inside, everywhere.

“Although I’m used to seeing bodies because of my expertise, it’s very difficult for me,” said Dr Deveci who worked at the hospital.

At least 15 patients were reported to be trapped inside the building and could not easily be reached by rescue teams.

Authoritie­s said a huge fire that engulfed shipping containers at Iskerdun port had been put out, but had no word on when it would return to full operations.

Drone footage earlier showed thick black smoke emerging from the port, dwarfing water jets from fire engines and spiralling into the sky.

Almost 36 hours after the first earthquake struck, there are still entire towns and villages in Turkey that have not seen first responders.

People there are forced to take matters into their own hands. “My dad decided to call his builders and dig it out ourselves,” Baris Yapar, a master’s student who was staying with his

‘Although I’m used to seeing bodies because of my expertise, it’s still very difficult for me’

parents in the coastal town of Samandag, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

Mr Yapar’s grandparen­ts were trapped in their building on Monday morning and have not been heard from since.

Yesterday the United Arab Emirates pledged to donate $100 million (£83 million) to the relief effort, one of the largest sums to date.

Saudi Arabia, which severed diplomatic ties with the Syrian government of president Bashar al-assad in 2012, also said it would be willing to provide assistance.

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