Rescue workers have extricated a 70-year-old man from a collapsed building in western Turkey, some 34 hours after a strong earthquake in the Aegean Sea struck Turkey and Greece, killing at least 51 and injuring more than 900 people.
Ahmet Citim was pulled out from the rubble in Izmir shortly after midnight Sunday and taken to hospital. Health minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that the man said: “I never lost my hope.”
Search-and-rescue teams continued work in nine buildings in Izmir as day broke on Sunday. AFAD said more than 5,700 personnel from state agencies, municipalities and non-governmental organisations had been activated for rescue work and hundreds of others for food distribution, psycho-social help and building damage control.
“If they are alive, we have high chance to get to them for 72 hours,” vice president Fuat Oktay told journalists. “God willing, it will be like that.”
Dogs, cats and rabbits were also rescued from the debris.
Turkey’s disaster and emergency management service, or AFAD, raised the death toll in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, to 49, as rescuers pulled more bodies out of toppled buildings.
Two teenagers also died in the quake on Friday on the Greek island of Samos and at least 19 others were injured.
The quake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centred in the Aegean northeast of Samos. AFAD said it measured 6.6 and hit at a depth of some 16km (10 miles).
A small tsunami was triggered in the Seferihisar district of Izmir, drowning one elderly woman. The tremors were felt across western Turkey, in Istanbul, as well as the Greek capital, Athens. Hundreds of aftershocks followed.
AFAD said 896 people were injured in Turkey.
Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey. Earthquakes are frequent in Greece as well.
In a show of solidarity rare in recent months of tense bilateral relations, Greek and Turkish government officials issued mutual messages of support for the past two days. Turkey, which saw more fatalities and damage, thanked other countries and international organisations for their statements of support.
The quake occurred as Turkey was already struggling with an economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 10,000 people with the virus have died in Turkey.