Istanbul – Covered in dust but otherwise healthy, three-year-old Ayda Gezgin was extracted from the rubble of an 8-story building on Tuesday, four days after a magnitude 7 earthquake struck her hometown of Izmir in Turkey. It was the second dramatic rescue of a toddler in as many days, but if the joy of finding the little girl alive held the hope of desperate families, it was tinged with tragedy.
Rescuers at the scene said Gezgin survived because she was lying next to a washing machine protecting her from debris when her apartment building collapsed. They said she was smiling when she was found.
Video showed her asking for her mother as she was transported in an ambulance, but the girl’s mother was one of 105 people killed by the quake. Fidan Gezgin died in the rubble of the same building from which his daughter escaped on Tuesday.
The official death toll could rise further as there was an unknown number of people still missing under destroyed buildings in the hard-hit city.
Turkey’s deputy health minister said Gezgin was in stable condition and his vital signs were normal.
More than 1,000 people were injured in the Izmir earthquake, and rescuers were still running Tuesday to find other survivors under the ruins of at least five apartment buildings in the city, which is the 3rd largest in Turkey.
Family members gathered around the collapsed buildings, hoping for any sign of loved ones.
More than 100 people were taken alive from 17 buildings across the city, where rescue operations began immediately after the earthquake.
Anotherunder the rubble of another building on Monday. She was reunited with her mother and twin sisters, who also escaped the rubble. His brother is dead.
Some pets have also managed to survive their house collapse. Firefighters recovered four kittens from the same building where Gezgin was found on Tuesday, the Izmir mayor tweeted.
But despite the stories of survival, the earthquake devastated many families. The body of Yesim Emir, a 29-year-old dental assistant, was found in the same destroyed building on Monday.
Fighting back tears, her mother Sibel Suruc told CBS News on Saturday that the family was clinging to hope, “praying that it would come out alive.”
Nearly 8,000 search and rescue workers and volunteers and 25 rescue dogs were deployed to the area to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake.
More than 5,000 people were trapped in tents as at least 58 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged.
Many residents were simply too scared to return home amid strong aftershocks. More than 1,000 aftershocks were recorded Monday after the initial tremor on Friday.