RESCUERS have pulled a 70-year-old man out alive from rubble 34 hours after the earthquake that hit Turkey and Greece.
Video shows the incredible moment Ahmet Citim was taken out of the ruins of a building in Izmir in the middle of the night after the strong quake struck the Aegean.
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Rescuers cheered and clapped as Mr Citim was taken on a stretcher to receive hospital treatment, as searches continued in nine buildings in Izmir, Turkey’s third biggest city.
He was later pictured in hospital with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who tweeted that Citim told him: “I never lost hope.”
Izmir bore the brunt of the destruction and at least 20 buildings collapsed and a mini-tsunami swept through coastal areas which swept a flood of debris – including cars – inland.
People were left running for their lives as the massive surge burst through sea defences and turned the streets into raging torrents of salt water.
Also rescued was 16-old Inci Okan, who was trapped under the rubble of the same eight-storey building as Mr Citim before being rescued after 17 hours, along with her dog Fistik – Pistachio.
National Medical Rescue Team member Edanur Dogan had held the girl’s hand while rescue teams removed the debris above her and later visited her in hospital.
“I am very happy. Thankfully my father was not at home. My father couldn’t fit there,” Okan said from her hospital bed.
“He would hurt his head. I am tiny. 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.”
Okan promised to play the violin for Dogan after being discharged from hospital saying: “I will play the violin for you, I promise.”
The earthquake which was centred on the Greek island of Samos has so far killed at least 64 people and injured more than 900.
A boy and a girl walking home from school in Samos were crushed to death when a wall suddenly collapsed on top of them.
Authorities became concerned when the pair failed to arrive at a tutoring centre after school.
Two destroyed apartment buildings where much of the rescues are taking place had received reports of decay in 2012 and 2018, according to the municipal agency in charge of inspections.
Turkish media said one of the buildings, which was built in 1993, was at risk of earthquake damage because of its low quality concrete and the lack of reinforcements but continued to be occupied.
A 73-year-old survivor from one of those 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.”
Turkey is criss-crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.
In 1999, two powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey and earthquakes are frequent in Greece as well.