Rescuers found Ayda Gezgin next to a sturdy dishwasher that apparently shielded her from the impact of the damage. Rescue workers called the space she was lying in a “life triangle.”
Ayda called out for her mother as she was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance. “Mom. I want my mom,” she said.
Rescuers recovered Ayda’s mother’s dead body just hours after the girl’s rescue, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). She was lying next to Ayda under the rubble.
The quake struck 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) northeast of the town of Néon Karlovásion on Samos, the USGS reported, at a relatively shallow depth of 21 kilometers (13 miles), making its impact powerfully felt at ground level around the epicenter.
More than 1,508 aftershocks have been registered since the initial quake, 44 of them with a magnitude above 4.0, Turkey’s disaster agency said. The earthquake also triggered what authorities called a “mini tsunami,” causing streets to flood Friday in parts of Turkey’s wider Izmir province, as well as on Samos.
“We heard her scream. We asked her what her name is… She said, ‘I’m fine.’ We asked her to wave her hand and she did,” rescue worker Nusret Aksoy told the press. He was describing the moments before they first reached the young girl.
Video of the search efforts showed rescue workers crying, clapping and praying as the 2-year-old was pulled from the rubble and wrapped in a thermal foil blanket.
Ayda, who will turn 3 years old next month, appeared awake and responsive, scanning the scene with alert eyes. “We started her on IV fluids but she is doing really well. She is conscious, she has no open wounds,” a member of Turkey’s National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) told national broadcaster TRT.
Rescue workers said the girl asked for water and Ayran, a Turkish yogurt drink popular with children. “The first thing she asked me was about was her father,” the UMKE worker said.
Ayda’s father was not in the building during the quake, Turkish media reported. During the search efforts, he was guiding rescue workers through his family’s destroyed home, according to reports.
The girl was taken to a hospital where she is being treated, according to TRT.
Rescue efforts are ongoing at five of the 17 collapsed building sites in Izmir, the emergency response directorate said.