Istanbul — Covered in dust but otherwise healthy, three-year-old Ayda Gezgin was pulled from the rubble of an 8-storey building on Tuesday, four days after a magnitude 7 earthquake battered her home city of Izmir in Turkey. It was the second dramatic rescue of a toddler in as many days, but while the joy of finding the little girl alive kept hope alive for desperate families, it was tinged with tragedy.
Rescuers on the scene said Gezgin survived because she was laying next to a washing machine that shielded her from debris when her apartment building collapsed. They said she smiled when she was found.
Video showed her asking for her mother as she was carried to an ambulance, but the girl’s mother was one of 105 people killed by the quake. Fidan Gezgin died in the rubble of the same building her daughter escaped from on Tuesday.
The official death toll could still rise as there were an undetermined number of people still believed to be missing under destroyed buildings in the hard-hit city.
Turkey’s Deputy Health Minister said Gezgin was in stable condition and her vital signs were normal.
More than 1,000 people were injured by the quake in Izmir, and rescuers were still racing Tuesday to find any other survivors under the ruins of at least five apartment buildings in the city, which is Turkey’s 3rd largest.
Family members gathered around the crumbled buildings, hoping for any sign of loved ones.
More than 100 people have been pulled alive from 17 buildings across the city, where rescue operations began immediately after the earthquake.
Anotherunder the rubble of different apartment building on Monday. She was reunited with her mother and twin sisters, who also escaped the debris. Her brother died.
Some pets have also managed to survive the collapse of their homes. Firefighters recovered four kittens on Tuesday from the same building where Gezgin was found, Izmir mayor tweeted.
But despite the stories of survival, the earthquake has left many families devastated. The body of Yesim Emir, a 29-year-old dental assistant, was recovered from the same destroyed building on Monday.
Fighting back tears, her mother Sibel Suruc had told CBS News on Saturday that the family was clinging to hope, “praying she will come out alive.”
Almost 8,000 search and rescue workers and volunteers and 25 rescue dogs were deployed to the area to assist in the aftermath of the quake.
More than 5,000 people were stuck living in tents, as at least 58 buildings had either collapsed or been seriously damaged.
Many residents were simply too fearful to return to their homes amid strong aftershocks. More than 1,000 aftershocks had been recorded by Monday following the initial temblor on Friday.