Man's 4-day survival lifts broken Turkish hearts

Published 28.10.2011 12:45
Updated 28.10.2011 13:03

The rescue of a man buried under rubble for more than 100 hours cheered grief-stricken survivors of the massive earthquake in Van, as thousands endured a fifth freezing, wet night without a roof over their heads.

Hundreds of onlookers whooped with joy shouting "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is greatest!" -- when a rescue team from Azerbaijan pulled a young man out alive on Thursday evening.

"Praise be to Allah!" cried the uncle of 18-year-old Imdat, whose name means "help" in Turkish, as his nephew was stretchered to a waiting ambulance.

With most search operations beginning to wind down, some 185 people have been found alive under the collapsed buildings since the quake struck just before 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, according to an official count.

They could add to that one grey parrot that was plucked from the rubble, shrieking in its cage a couple of hours after the young man.

As of late Thursday, the death toll was 535, with 2,300 people hurt in Turkey's biggest quake in more than a decade.

The numbers no-one seemed sure of were the homeless.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies put the number of "affected people" at 50,000 in a news release to raise funds for the relief effort

In Ercis alone, a town of around 100,000 people, it was clear that hardly anyone was going back to their property even if it was still standing.

Two or three tent cities have sprouted on the outskirts of Ercis, but thousands of men, having settled their children and womenfolk as best they can, wander the city at night looking for whatever shelter they can find. With nowhere to go they lean against walls to protect themselves from the rain.

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