Earthquake in Turkey and Greece: Man, 70, pulled from rubble of collapsed building ‘never lost hope’

A 70-year-old man has been rescued from a collapsed building in Turkey, 34 hours after a major earthquake struck the country and Greece, killing at least 60 people and injuring 900 others.

Ahmet Citim said he “never lost hope”, as he was pulled from the rubble in Turkey’s third largest city Izmir, according to a tweet by the health minister Fahrettin Koca.

Video footage shows rescuers cheering and clapping as Mr Citim was taken away on a stretcher to receive hospital treatment, as searches continued in nine buildings in Izmir.

The quake struck the Aegean Sea on Friday, with some debate over its magnitude.

The US Geological Survey said it had a magnitude of 7.0, while the Istanbul’s Kandilli Institute put it at 6.9, and Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said it measured 6.6.

It triggered mini tsunamis in many low-lying coastal areas, with Izmir and the Greek island of Samos the worst-affected areas – hundreds of aftershocks were felt.

Two teenagers were killed on Samos after being struck by a collapsing wall, and at least 19 people were hurt on the island.

In Izmir, Inci Okan, 16, had also been trapped under the rubble of the same eight-storey building as Mr Citim, before being rescued 17 hours after the quake.

Her dog Fistik – meaning pistachio in English – was also rescued. Cats and rabbits have also been saved.

Turkey’s health minister Fahrettin Koca and rescuer Edanur Dogan, who held the teenager’s hand while teams removed the debris above her, both visited her in hospital.

Speaking from her bed there, she said: “I am very happy. Thankfully my father was not at home. My father couldn’t fit there. He would hurt his head.

“I am tiny”, she added, saying: “I am short, so I squeezed in and that’s how I was rescued.

“We stayed home with my dog. Both of us are well.” She then promised to play the violin for Mr Dogan after she was discharged.

Officials said 20 buildings were destroyed in Izmir’s Bayrakli district, which was in the process of urban transformation due to lack of earthquake resistance.

On Saturday evening, Turkish President Erdogan said 103 people had been rescued since the quake, including three young children and their mother.

More than 5,700 rescuers from different agencies and cities worked together to reach survivors, at times hushing the crowds to listen into the rubble with sensitive headphones and crawling through the cracks.

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.

In 1999, two powerful quakes killed around 18,000 people in the north west of the country, while earthquakes are also frequent in Greece.

The quake occurred as Turkey was already struggling with an economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic.

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