Newborn, toddlers survive days in rubble, bringing joy amid earthquake tragedy

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Crouched under concrete slabs and whispering “inshallah” (God willing), the rescuers carefully reached into the rubble, then passed down the line their prize - a 10-day-old newborn who survived four days with his mother in the collapsed building.

His eyes wide open, Turkish baby Yagiz Ulas was wrapped in a shiny thermal blanket and carried to a field medical center in Samandag, Hatay province, on Friday. Emergency workers also carried his mother, dazed and pale but conscious, on a stretcher, video images from Turkey’s disaster agency showed.

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The rescue of a number of small children has lifted the spirits of weary crews searching for survivors on the fifth day after a major earthquake struck Turkey and neighboring Syria, killing more than 21,000 people.

The rescuers, including specialist teams from dozens of countries, toiled through the night in the ruins of thousands of wrecked buildings. In freezing temperatures, they regularly called for silence as they listened for any sound of life from mangled concrete mounds.

In the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras, 200 km (125 miles) north of Samandag, orange-clad workers squeezed into an air pocket beneath a fallen building to find a toddler, crying as dust fell into his eyes, before relief settled over him and rescuers gently brushed his face clean, video from the Turkish defense ministry showed.

Further to the east of Turkey, the fearful face of another boy looked out from a pancaked building, his cries rising above the sound of the drills and grinders trying to free him on Friday morning in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir, where the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks turned apartment blocks into mounds of rubble and piles of shattered masonry,

After opening a wider hole, workers placed an oxygen mask on his face and carried him to safety. Like baby Yagiz, he was followed by his mother, on a stretcher, 103 hours after the earthquake struck.

And across the border in Syria, rescuers from the White Helmets group used bare hands to dig through plaster and cement, the air clouded with thick dust, until reaching the bare foot of a young girl, wearing pink pajamas now grimy from days trapped, but alive and free at last.

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