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Miracle baby emerges from Turkish quake rubble

Turkish rescuers carry Azra Karaduman, a 2-week-old baby girl found alive in the debris of a building that collapsed in Sunday’s earthquake in eastern Turkey. The baby, who is healthy, was found with her mother and grandmother. The death toll rose to 459 on Tuesday.

Associated Press

Turkish rescuers carry Azra Karaduman, a 2-week-old baby girl found alive in the debris of a building that collapsed in Sunday’s earthquake in eastern Turkey. The baby, who is healthy, was found with her mother and grandmother. The death toll rose to 459 on Tuesday.

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.

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.

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, Turkey's capital.

The pockets of jubilation were tempered by many more discoveries of bodies by thousands of aid workers in the worst-hit city of Ercis and other communities in eastern Turkey devastated by the earthquake.

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.

Close to 500 aftershocks have rattled the area, according to Turkey's Kandilli seismology center. A strong one Tuesday sent residents rushing into the streets in panic while sparking a riot by prisoners in the city of Van, 55 miles south of Ercis. The U.S. Geological Survey put that temblor at a magnitude of 5.7.

Some prisoners demanded to be let out while others set bedding on fire as the revolt spread inside the 1,000-bed prison, the Dogan news agency reported. Security forces surrounded the facility to try to prevent escapes.

There was still no power or running water in the region, and desperate people stopped trucks even before they entered Ercis, grabbing tents and other supplies.

Aid workers said they were able to find emergency housing for only about half the thousands of people who needed it.

Turkey decided to accept offers of assistance after its emergency management authorities decided that thousands of survivors would need prefabricated homes to get through the winter in the mountainous region, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said.

At least 1,352 people were injured in the quake, TRT television said. Nine people were rescued Tuesday.

The mother of the rescued baby, Semiha Karaduman, and the child's grandmother, Gulsaadet, were huddled together when rescuers found them.

Workers could not find the baby's father and there were no other signs of life, Direk said.

The family live in Sivas in central Turkey but were visiting the girl's grandparents in Ercis, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

How to help

Donations for Turkey's earthquake relief effort can be made at Catholic Relief Services, crs.org; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, ifrc.org; American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, jdc.org.

Miracle baby emerges from Turkish quake rubble 10/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 11:38pm]

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