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Mother, children rescued from Turkey quake rubble; death toll at 28


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© Reuters. An aerial view shows rescue workers searching for survivors at a collapsed building after an earthquake in Izmir

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By Murad Sezer and Ece Toksabay

IZMIR (Reuters) – A mother and three of her children were pulled to safety on Saturday after being trapped for almost 18 hours under a building in the western Turkish city of Izmir that was flattened in a powerful earthquake.

Rescuers were continuing efforts to free the woman’s fourth child, as the Aegean port city’s major said around 180 people remained trapped.

“In the meantime, we are delighted to be hearing miracles happening as a result of diligent work by rescue teams,” Mayor Tunc Soyer told television channel Fox TV.

Friday’s quake killed 26 people in Turkey and two on the Greek island of Samos, officials said.

It destroyed at least 20 buildings in Izmir, causing panic in the city and setting off tidal waves that slammed into coastal areas and islands.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a televised address, said 885 people were injured, 15 of them critically.

In Izmir, the rescue work was punctuated by frequent aftershocks, of which Turkey’s disaster agency recorded around 520.

By Saturday afternoon search operations had been completed in eight buildings and were continuing in nine others, officials said.

One resident said both her parents were still trapped. “I couldn’t get any news. I couldn’t get any news,” the woman told Reuters, when asked about attempts to reach them.

As bulldozers removed debris from collapsed buildings while rescuers dismantled walls by hand, Environment Minister Murat Kurum said some 100 people had been rescued so far.

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The first 300 of 900 tents provided for those made homeless were erected in the city.

In a rare show of warmth between Turkey and Greece – caught up in a bitter dispute over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean – Erdogan and his counterpart in Athens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, exchanged solidarity messages on Friday.

“Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis tweeted.

Erdogan responded in a tweet: “Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds. That two neighbours show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”

Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. Cooperation between the two countries after a devastating quake in 1999 led to a period of warmer ties between them.

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