Children left orphans by quakes as teen pulled from rubble 10 days on
Desperate children have been left abandoned, their entire families killed by the earthquakes which have devastated Turkey and Syria.
Three-year-old Arslan Berri lost both his parents and his siblings following the February 6 disaster, which has killed more than 42,000 people.
The Syrian boy, hospitalised in Sarmada, was the sole survivor from his building in the town of Harim.
His uncle, Ezzat Hamdi, said rescuers dug for three days to find the bodies of the boy’s family.
And Hanaa Sharif, eight, was also the only survivor in her immediate family.
She repeatedly asked for news of her father, mother and four-year-old sister while lying in a hospital bed in Maarat Misrin, in Syria’s Idlib province – not knowing they had all perished.
It came as aid workers warned the 7million children in affected areas face long-term psychological damage. Charities have been providing essential supplies – but also ‘safe spaces’ where youngsters can play and get support.
‘Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in this crisis. They must be completely bewildered,’ said Madara Hettiarachchi, of the DEC, which has raised £84million in donations.
And Johan Mooij, of World Vision, warned: ‘Syrian children are again at risk of being forgotten following the aftermath of this unimaginable crisis.
‘It is not enough that they have suffered from almost 12 years of war and destruction. It is urgent we address the needs of unaccompanied children.’
Meanwhile, a teenage girl was yesterday rescued from a collapsed building, almost 250 hours after the quakes.
Seventeen-year-old Aleyna Olmez was hauled from rubble in Kayabasi, in Turkish province Kahramanmaras, before being taken to hospital.
Footage showed her carried on a stretcher under a thermal blanket as her tearful uncle hugged rescuers, telling them: ‘We will never forget you.’
Coal miner Ali Akdogan, who helped the recovery, said: ‘She looked to be in good health. She opened and closed her eyes. We are happy whenever we find a living thing – even a cat.’
Earlier, a woman named Ela and her two children, Meysaw and Ali, were saved after 228 hours from the wreckage of their apartment building in the Turkish city of Antakya.
Rescuer Mehmet Eryilma told news agency Anadolu: ‘First, I held her hand. We talked, chatted and calmed down. She asked, “What day are we on?”’
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg pledged help, telling an Ankara news conference: ‘We salute the courage of the Turkish first responders and we mourn with you.’
But medics told of desperate scenes in ‘overwhelmed’ hospitals across the border in civil war-torn Syria.
‘Huge numbers of patients came in a short period of time,’ Dr Nizar Suleiman, of Aleppo’s Al-Razi Hospital, told the BBC. ‘We have a huge shortage in medicines, so it’s really worrying.’