Sisters trapped in Turkey rubble comfort one another as they plea with rescuers to get them out
A trapped little girl shielding her sibling’s head from a slab of concrete. A teenage boy recording himself under the rubble on TikTok, wondering if he will survive. A stunned father huddled on the ruins of his home, holding the hand of his dead 15-year-old daughter who remains entombed in her bedroom.
The powerful images and videos show the depths of human resilience, suffering and grief as rescuers scramble to find survivors of the deadly earthquakes that brought devastation to the Turkish/Syrian border on Monday.
The death toll from the disaster is creeping close to 8,000 as countless victims remain imprisoned in their flattened homes. Piercing the harrowing footage emerging on social media, aid workers can also be seen expressing joy at every life saved from the carnage.
A video posted by Syria’s White Helmet aid organisation showed jubilant crowds in the village of Bisnia, Idlib province, greeting a family of four who were pulled, miraculously unscathed, from a pile of debris. A little girl in a pink jumper and her brother are held aloft to cheers before being passed to a waiting ambulance.
A true miracle...the sounds of joy embrace the sky... joy beyond belief.
An entire family was rescued from under the rubble of their house this afternoon, Tuesday, February 7, in the village of Bisnia, west of #Idlib.#Syria #earthquake pic.twitter.com/Cb7kXLiMjT
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 7, 2023
Much of the footage reveals the devastating impact of the catastrophe on young children, some of whom have survived alone in claustrophobic air pockets, others whose tiny, limp bodies are wrapped in blankets and handed back to their distraught parents.
A short clip from Syria shows a little girl, aged about four or five, sandwiched between two blocks of concrete while bravely shielding her younger sister and stroking her head. She calmly asks a rescuer to help get them out. Both children were saved.
Among all these devastating scenes and dark news, some good news where 3 children were rescued alive. First video is from #Syria the second one is from #Turkey @UNICEF #earthquakes 😊 pic.twitter.com/RqdiLQncRu
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) February 7, 2023
Rescue workers are seen trying to comfort little children while trying to free them. “Don’t sleep. Talk to us and I will buy you chocolate,” one man tells a trapped boy in Turkey. Another is shown offering a shellshocked toddler pinned against a wall some water in a bottle lid.
“Come, come, come, don’t be scared. Mum is also coming,” an aid worker tells a little girl in pyjamas as she gingerly eases herself out of the wreckage. “It’s like a slide, ok my darling?”
Another little boy found asleep in the ruins of a building in southern Turkey rubs his eyes and asks, “what is happening?” as he is extracted unharmed.
A toddler was found sleeping under rubble in southern Turkey after the deadly earthquakes. As rescuers brought him out and placed him in a blanket, all he could do was rub his eyes and cry out, "what is happening?" pic.twitter.com/UGyBBlToZH
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 7, 2023
Many others have tragically not been so fortunate.
"Most of the patients are children who are bleeding and dying from the cold [after being stuck under debris]," Dr Osama Sallom, of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), told Sky News from the Bab Al Hawa Hospital, which has so far received over 400 casualties.
Some children are now the lone survivors of their families or remain unidentified, as welfare officials desperately seek to reunite them with their relatives. Many heartbroken parents are now mourning their children.
A photo of a dust-covered man, crouching in the freezing cold on top of his crumpled home and staring into the distance offers a glimpse into the dark chasm of grief that now faces countless families. He holds the hand of his teenage daughter, crushed on her bed by the collapsing ceiling as she slept.
The grief is incomprehensible. Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter who has been crushed to death by rubble from the earthquake in Turkey. pic.twitter.com/tq4zMeX1eh
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 7, 2023
At least two disturbing videos, as yet unverified but apparently captured on a baby monitor and mobile phone, show people inside their homes desperately scrambling for cover as the earthquake strikes. The Turkish authorities have now banned citizens from re-entering unstable apartment blocks.
Unicef has warned that “the needs and recovery will be catastrophic and long lasting” in the region.
For now, rescuers are racing the perishing cold to reach survivors.
The fate of a terrified teenage boy in Syria remains unknown after he posted a video of himself on TikTok from underneath the twisted metal and concrete of his home.
Fear in his voice, he says he does not know if he will live or die, to a backdrop of frantic voices and desperate cries.
“More than two, three families are stuck, you hear their screams and our neighbours. God help us,” he says.