ERCIS, Turkey — After 48 hours, a miracle emerged from the rubble: a 2-week-old baby girl brought out half-naked but alive from the wreckage of an apartment building toppled by Turkey’s devastating earthquake.
Rescue workers erupted in cheers and applause Tuesday at sight of the infant — and again hours later when her mother and grandmother were pulled out, their survival a ray of joy on an otherwise grim day.
Tuesday’s dramatic rescue of three generations of one family was all the more remarkable because the infant, Azra Karaduman, was declared healthy after being flown to a hospital in Ankara, the Turkish capital.
“Bringing them out is such happiness. I wouldn’t be happier if they gave me tons of money,” said rescuer Oytun Gulpinar.
The death toll from Sunday’s 7.2-magnitude quake climbed to at least 459 as desperate survivors fought over aid and blocked aid shipments. A powerful aftershock ignited widespread panic that turned into a prison riot in a nearby provincial city.
With thousands of quake survivors facing a third night out in the open in near-freezing temperatures, Turkey set aside its national pride and said it would accept international aid offers, even from Israel, with which it has had strained relations.
Some 2,000 buildings collapsed, but the fact that the quake hit in daytime, when many people were out of their homes, averted an even worse disaster.
Turkey lies in one of the world’s most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. In 1999, two earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people.
Istanbul, the country’s largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwestern Turkey near a major fault line, and experts say tens of thousands could be killed if a major quake struck there.