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Baby, mother, grandmother pulled alive from rubble in Turkey

From Diana Magnay and Yesim Comert, CNN
updated 3:05 PM EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The death toll jumps to 459
  • NEW: Israel says it will send an assistance flight on Wednesday
  • Two-week-old Azra Karaduman, her mother, and her paternal grandmother were rescued
  • 4 corpses are pulled from the rubble of the same building

Find out how you can help those devastated by the earthquake in Turkey; visit our Impact Your World page at CNN.com/IMPACT.

Ercis, Turkey (CNN) -- In a dramatic rescue that gave hope to those praying for the survival of their loved ones, rescuers in eastern Turkey pulled a baby, her mother and her grandmother alive from the rubble Tuesday, two days after a devastating earthquake.

Dramatic video showed tiny Azra Karaduman being carried by rescuers to a vehicle that would take her to the hospital. They were holding a mask over her mouth to help give her oxygen.

Later, rescuers pulled the girl's mother and paternal grandmother alive from the rubble as well.

Officials said the 2-week-old girl's father remained trapped somewhere under the debris of the multiple-story building.

Over several hours, four corpses were pulled from the rubble of the same building, officials said. At least one of them was male. Officials did not say immediately whether one of the bodies was the baby's father.

The official death toll jumped to 459 Tuesday, with another 1,352 people injured, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Relief Agency said.

Teams of rescuers throughout the poor region struck by Sunday's 7.2-magnitude quake are searching for survivors around the clock.

Reaching Azra -- who, according to her maternal grandmother, was born three weeks prematurely -- was particularly difficult, rescuers told CNN.

The baby's mother managed to make contact with rescuers and get the baby to them through a narrow passage, a rescuer said.

Officials had to find a rescuer thin enough to fit into the crevice to get Azra. The rescuer told CNN it was the first time he had ever pulled someone alive from earthquake rubble in 12 years of doing such work.

While rescuers worked to get to the mother and grandmother, they managed to supply the two women with oxygen, officials said.

"It was hard to rescue them" because of the tight space, said rescue worker Tansu Bayram. "It was so difficult."

Some 2,262 buildings in the region lie in ruins.

The military is assisting rescue workers, who are using heavy machinery, shovels, and their bare hands.

Numerous aftershocks -- the largest a magnitude 6.0 -- have rattled the area, which is one of the poorest in Turkey. One on Tuesday measured 5.7, and was 7 km (4.3 miles) deep.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 55 buildings collapsed in Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van. The Turkish Red Crescent said about 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory also collapsed in the town.

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A health services building also collapsed, along with part of a hospital, CNN sister network CNN Turk reported. The injured were being treated in the hospital's garden.

"People are really scared," CNN Turk reporter Nevsin Mengu said from Van on Monday. "The survivors are now trying to survive the cold weather."

Rescuers and survivors contended with near-freezing temperatures. Some people collected wood from collapsed buildings to burn for warmth, Mengu said.

She said many residents are not returning to their houses, opting instead to sleep on rooftops or in the streets. It was not clear whether their homes were uninhabitable or if they were just too frightened.

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The Red Crescent called for rescue workers, machinery and drinking water. A crisis center was set up by the country's Health Ministry in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

By Monday, more than 2,300 emergency personnel were in the region, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said. Tents and rescue teams have come from as far away as Iran and Azerbaijan.

Israel's Ministry of Defense said that on Wednesday, a plane with several portable housing structures will fly to eastern Turkey, the first of a number of flights accommodating a Turkish request for assistance. It will be a civilian plane rented by the Israeli government, the ministry said.

"The United Nations is in contact with the relevant authorities and stands ready to offer any assistance if requested," Martin Nesirky, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said Monday.

Turkey is "no stranger to having these seismic events," but Sunday's quake is considered major, CNN Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf said.

A magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Izmit, Turkey, killed more than 17,000 people in 1999, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A magnitude-7.2 tremor in Duzce the same year killed 894 people, the agency reported.

Sunday's quake struck at 1:41 p.m. local time and was centered about 12 miles from Van, the agency said.

CNN's Talia Kayali and Hande Atay contributed to this report.

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