‘Priceless treasure’: Miracle rescue as children freed after days under earthquake rubble

Turkish rescuers are celebrating the ‘miracle’ rescue of two young children after days buried beneath rubble left by a massive earthquake.

The earthquake on Saturday has so far claimed at least 90 lives, with many residents in the disaster area still missing.

Three-year-old Elif Perincek was pulled out alive on Monday night Australian time after being trapped under rubble for 65 hours in the Turkish city of Izmir.

Her rescue came shortly after Idil Sirin, 14, was freed after spending more than 58 hours trapped under a collapsed building in the same town.


A dehydrated Elif clung to a rescue worker’s thumb as she was carried to safety to the applause of emergency workers who had toiled tirelessly to find her.

Firefighter Muammer Celik thought the worst when he reached Elif only to find her motionless and covered in dust. He asked a colleague for a body bag.

“I picked her up. I cleaned her face, got rid of the dust,” Mr Celik told the Associated Press.

She held my finger and wouldn’t let go until we got to ambulance,” he said. “Elif is our miracle.”

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Elif’s mother and two sisters were rescued two days earlier, but her 6-year-old brother died in the disaster.

Despite being taken to intensive care, Mr Koca said Elif had not sustained any serious injuries.

She was given a set of pink fairy wings, a wand and crayons, and managed to draw quietly as nurses and doctors tended to her injuries including a swollen eye and facial scratches.

Earlier, dozens of onlookers were captured on video cheering as 14-year-old Idil was rescued.

She was given first aid at the scene before being transported to a local hospital, but also escaped serious injury.

An estimated 20 buildings were destroyed in Izmir during Friday’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake, which also triggered a mini-tsunami.

A building in Izmir crumbled after a the quake off Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast. Photo: Getty

Buildings were also flattened in nearby Greece.

Some Greek neighbourhoods were deluged with surging seawater which swept a flood of debris inland and left fish stranded as it receded.

-with agencies

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