Emergency workers have rescued a 27-year-old woman alive from a collapsed building, three days after an earthquake killed more than 400 people in eastern Turkey.
Gozde Bahar, an English teacher, was pulled out alive Wednesday in the town of Ercis, the hardest hit by the quake, 66 hours after it happened.
As she was being transported to hospital her heart briefly stopped and she was in critical condition.
“Of course I still have hope,” said Bahar’s fiance, Hasan Gurcan, 29, looking dazed as he relayed the news on his mobile.
The survival of a 14-day-old prematurely born baby girl called Azra rescued on Tuesday also lifted spirits.
“We have hope. There are always miracles. Normally, we do not expect anyone to survive after 72 hours but people have survived longer than that before,” said a rescue official standing by the collapsed building where Azra was found.
But hopes of finding more survivors faded and some teams were suspending searches.
Tens of thousands have been left homeless by the powerful 7.2 magnitude quake, which has now prompted the government to request foreign aid, including from Israel, to shelter distraught families amid growing complaints of a lack of tents and other relief supplies.
Officials said prospects of finding survivors buried under tonnes of rubble were waning as time passed and winter temperatures fell.
A senior rescue official in Van said search and rescue operations in the centre of the city are over.
“We have reached the bottom of the wreckage and searches are now over in the centre of Van,” he said, adding that searches in the centre of the town had included six buildings.
‘Our angel has gone’
On a main street in Van rescue workers pulled out the body of a woman in her 20s from the flattened remains of a seven-storey apartment block.
“Our bride, our angel has gone,” said a small group of women who cried as the woman’s corpse was brought out, sealed in a body bag and taken away in an ambulance.
While the death toll that struck eastern Van province near the Iranian border stood at 459, officials said it was likely to rise as many people were still missing.
Complaints over the lack of tents have grown louder with each passing day, and some desperate survivors fought among themselves to try and grab tents being distributed by relief workers from the back of a truck.
The Turkish Red Crescent has been struggling to deliver fast enough to provide shelter for victims of the quake shivering in freezing temperatures at night.
Having started out by saying Turkey could handle the disaster alone, prime minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government put out requests on Tuesday to 30 countries for emergency materials, including prefabricated housing, tents and containers.
Israel, whose ties with Turkey hit rock bottom after Israeli commandos killed nine Turks on board a Gaza-bound flotilla last year, immediately said it was launching an airlift of supplies, starting with a shipment of prefabricated homes on Wednesday.
Turkey’s most powerful quake in a decade is one more affliction for Kurds, the dominant ethnic group in the impoverished south-east, where more than 40,000 people have been killed in a three-decade-long separatist insurgency.
Japan’s embassy in Ankara said its government was donating $400,000 to the relief effort and would be sending urgently needed items including tents.
People in Van, Ercis and other towns and villages in the region were fearful of returning to their damaged homes as more than 200 aftershocks have rattled the quake zone since Sunday.
Prisoners in a jail in Van rioted on Tuesday because they feared they would be crushed in their cells when a 5.4 magnitude aftershock struck and spread panic.
The inmates set fire to the jail and fought their guards before troops were sent in to quell the violence. Firefighters put out the flames.