Girls pulled out of rubble 3 days after Turkey quake
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A woman and a child on Sunday stand amid a tent city set up by authorities after an earthquake in the Aegean port city of Izmir, Turkey. MURAD SEZER/REUTERS
IZMIR, Turkey-Rescue teams on Monday brought out two girls alive from the wreck of their collapsed apartment buildings in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir, three days after a powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea hit the country and Greece.
The overall death toll in Friday's quake reached 81 after teams found more bodies overnight amid toppled buildings in Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city.
More than 1,000 people were injured in the tremor, which was centered in the Aegean Sea northeast of the Greek island of Samos. It killed two teenagers on Samos and injured at least 19 other people on the island.
In a rare show of unity after months of tense relations over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of solidarity over the quake.
Rescue workers clapped in unison as 14-year-old Idil Sirin was removed from the rubble, after being trapped for some 58 hours. Her 8-year-old sister, Ipek, did not survive, NTV television reported.
Seven hours later, rescuers extricated 3-year-old Elif Perincek, whose mother and two sisters had been rescued two days earlier, from another toppled building. The child spent 65 hours in the wreckage of her apartment and became the 106th person to be rescued alive, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Onlookers applauded as ambulances carrying the girls rushed to hospitals immediately after their rescue.
There was some debate over the magnitude of the earthquake. The US Geological Survey rated it 7.0, while Istanbul's Kandilli Institute put it at 6.9 and Turkey's emergency management agency said it measured 6.6.
A 73-year-old survivor from one of the buildings said she was on her third-floor balcony when the quake struck and believes there were at least 50 people in the building, which also had a cafe on the bottom floor.
"In the first tremor, nothing happened. During the second tremor, the seventh floor, sixth and fourth floors fell on top of another like a sandwich," Suzan Dere said. "The building collapsed in a cloud of dust onto the street with a very loud noise. It all happened within one minute."
The quake triggered a small tsunami that hit Samos and the Seferihisar district of Izmir, drowning one elderly woman. The tremors were felt across western Turkey, including in Istanbul as well as in the Greek capital of Athens. Hundreds of aftershocks followed.
Turkey has a mix of older buildings, some of which are cheap or illegally constructed. They can lead to serious damage and deaths when earthquakes hit.
Regulations have been tightened in light of earthquakes to strengthen or demolish buildings and urban renewal is underway in several Turkish cities, but it is not happening fast enough.
Turkey sits on top of fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two quakes killed nearly 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.
Agencies via Xinhua China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-03 09:48