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World News

Man rescued from rubble as Turkey quake death toll hits 62

IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A 70-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Izmir on Sunday, after being buried for 33 hours following a powerful earthquake which struck Turkey’s Aegean coast and Greek islands.

Turkish authorities reported more deaths on Sunday, bringing the toll to 62, all in Izmir, while two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos.

The man, identified as Ahmet Citim, was rescued from one of 20 residential buildings destroyed in Izmir’s Bayrakli district, a former shantytown where older buildings vulnerable to earthquakes were being replaced by newer construction projects. Television images showed that the collapsed buildings were older ones.

Rescue and emergency teams have been working through the wrecked buildings for two days and President Tayyip Erdogan said his government was “determined to heal the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Izmir before the cold and rains begin.”

More than 3,000 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to Turkey’s disasters and emergency agency AFAD, which said 940 people had been injured in Friday’s earthquake.

More than 700 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, while eight remain in intensive care, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Friday’s earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centered in the Aegean Sea, northeast of Samos.

“I WILL PLAY VIOLIN FOR YOU”

Sixteen-year-old Inci Okan was trapped under the rubble of the same 8-storey building as the elderly man before being rescued 17 hours after the strong quake, along with her dog Fistik (Pistachio).

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) member Edanur Dogan visited Okan at hospital.

Emergency worker Dogan had held the girl’s hand while rescue teams removed the debris above her.

“I am very happy. Thankfully my father was not at home. My father couldn’t fit there. He would hurt his head. I am tiny. I am short so I squeezed in and that’s how I was rescued. We stayed home with my dog. Both of us are well,” Okan said from her hospital bed.

Okan promised to play the violin for Dogan after being discharged from hospital.

“I will play the violin for you, I promise.”

Reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Murad Sezer; Writing by Ece Toksabay and Dominic Evans; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Hugh Lawson

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