Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sobbed repeatedly as he saw rescue workers pull a three-year-old girl from the rubble of a building thar collapsed during Friday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake in the western city of Izmir, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
Three-year-old Ayda Gezgin was rescued after 91 hours, but her mother, Figen Gezgin, lost her life in the same building. Erdoğan spoke on the phone with Ayda’s father, Uğur Gezgin, to wish his daughter well and to offer him condolences for his deceased wife, Anadolu said.
“Allah has spared our Baby Ayda for you and for all of the nation,” Erdoğan told Gezgin.
Ayda was transferred to a nearby hospital but is conscious and not in immediate danger, according to Cumhuriyet newspaper.
Erdoğan said he prayed for the injured and told the girl’s father that the family would be supported by the state, according to Anadolu.
Istanbul’s Başakşehir municipality, a pro-AKP district, tweeted a collage of images from the moment of the rescue. The images’ caption read: “All of Anatolia found joy with you, there are millions of mothers who will call you their baby when you call out for your mother.”
— Başakşehir Belediyesi (@Basaksehir_Bld) November 3, 2020
Ayda had asked for her favourite meatballs after the rescue, and many fast food restaurants flooded the hospital with enough food for everybody, according to local news provider Ege’de SonSöz. One meatball maker came under fire for taking advantage of a tragedy when it tweeted out its campaign.
Miracle girl #Ayda is hungry.
-What do you want sweetie?
-You want to eat?
-What would you like to eat?
-Köfte (meatballs) and ayran (drink with yogurt&water)
-We’ll get it ready right away.
— 🇹🇷 Umut Acar (@AcarUmut) November 3, 2020
A total of 1,855 aftershocks have rocked the region since the earthquake, according to a statement on Wednesday by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). More than 1,000 people were injured, 137 of whom remain in hospital, it said.
AFAD said its search and rescue work had been completed and work to clear rubble was underway. The government has allocated 29 million liras ($3.45 million) for emergency relief funding, it said.