Rescuers in Turkey and Syria battled bitter cold  on Tuesday in a race against time to find survivors under buildings flattened by an earthquake that killed more than 8,300 people. And, some extraordinary stories of survival emerged from the disaster-battered region. One being of a 7-year-old girl shielding her sibling under rubble. 

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“Hand over her little brother’s head to protect him”

A video of the seven-year-old girl shielding her younger brother under the a mountain of debris has gone viral on the internet. They were stuck under the rubble of a collapsed building for hours. However, the rescue team later rescued them.

They both were lauded for being brave, while the girl was seen as a hero for her younger sibling. She was lying under the debris and covered her brother with her arms to protect him from the disaster.

“While under the rubble of her collapsed home this beautiful 7yr old Syrian girl has her hand over her little brother’s head to protect him. Brave soul They both made it out ok,” One user tweeted while sharing the visuals.  

“Heard a voice while we were digging”

Meanwhile, a baby rescued from under the rubble of a five-story apartment building in a town in northwest Syria lost its mother just moments after the devastating earthquake struck. The newborn girl was found buried under the debris with her umbilical cord still connected to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, who was found dead, they said.

The baby was the only member of her family to survive from the building collapse on Monday in the small town of Jinderis, next to the Turkish border, Ramadan Sleiman, a relative, said.

“We heard a voice while we were digging,” Khalil al-Suwadi, a relative, told AFP. “We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact) so we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital.”

The infant is the sole survivor of her immediate family, the rest of whom were killed in the rebel-held town of


It comes as the search for survivors across Turkey and Syria has been impeded by the sub-zero temperatures and close to 200 aftershocks, which made the search through unstable structures perilous.


The 7.8-magnitude quake struck Monday as people slept, flattening thousands of structures, trapping an unknown number of people and potentially impacting millions.

Whole rows of buildings collapsed, leaving some of the heaviest devastation near the quake’s epicentre between the Turkish cities of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras. The destruction led to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declaring Tuesday a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces.

The powerful earthquake was the deadliest to hit Turkey since 1999, and officials fear the death toll will keep rising.


Some felt they have been left to fend for themselves

Dozens of nations including the United States, China and the Gulf States have pledged to help, and search teams as well as relief supplies have begun to arrive by air.

Yet people in some of the hardest-hit areas said they felt they had been left to fend for themselves.

“I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There is no state official here, for God’s sake,” said Ali Sagiroglu in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.

“For two days we haven’t seen the state around here… Children are freezing from the cold,” he added.

A woman’s adult daughter, Senay, was on the second floor of the collapsed building. Nurten has been waiting here all day and all night, but no news has come.


“When my daughter is lying in the cold, how can I lie down in a warm bed?” she asks.

“My daughter never liked the cold, oh God. She is under the earth. My heart is burning,” she cries.

Another man who believed someone was alive underneath the rubble, pleaded, “Speak out loud.” “As you see, there is a dead body here. He is dead and nobody has removed him. And a woman’s voice is heard from underneath.”

A region awaits help it may be impossible to provide on the scale needed. And in the meantime, more buildings risk falling, and the small fires outdoors will be the only way to stay warm.

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