Turkey: Boy rescued after 105 hours under rubble - Dispatch Weekly

February 14, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes

​​Five-year-old Aras is lying on his back, playing with a model vehicle, dwarfed by his adult hospital bed.

He is a miracle in Turkey.

105 hours after the earthquake, rescue workers managed to pull him from the wreckage of his house in the now-devastated city of Kahramanmaras.

His body temperature was just 28C when he was brought into the intensive care unit, indicating that hypothermia had already taken hold.

Aras might have lived, but his sister Hiranur, who was seven, did not. Alp, his nine-year-old brother, did not either. nor his dad.

His is one of the numerous families that have been permanently destroyed by this catastrophe.

Mehmet is sitting beside Aras’s bedside, caressing his grandson’s brown hair.

He said: “He is a good boy. He has a commanding manner. He has integrity. He isn’t a spoiled child.”

Mehmet, who is now 72, promises that he would continue to care for Aras as if he were his own son for the rest of his days.

“The rescuers did such a great job of saving him, and by God’s mercy, they delivered him back to us alive,” he said.

As the physician adjusts the bandage on Aras’ badly swollen left foot, he winces a little, although he’s recovering well right now.

Aras hasn’t seen his mother since their world collapsed, but she is said to be alive and being treated at another hospital in the city.

Aras’s own life was saved in an intensive care centre that Israeli medics created.

On Monday, it wasn’t simply Aras with an amazing tale as there was also a 65-year-old Syrian man among the newly rescued survivors.

After six freezing nights, Samir, was found in the ruins.

He was eventually saved by doctors, although both of his legs had to be amputated.

It’s been a long and difficult week for the medical professionals at the centre of the catastrophe.

Dr. Mehmet Cihan, a paediatrician, arrived in Kahramanmaras as soon as he could from Istanbul to assist colleagues.

“It’s really nasty. There are way too many kids that lost their parents. I’m not sure. I find it to be far too difficult,” he said.

Beyond Kahramanmaras, the international medical effort is extensive.

In the town of Turkoglu, Turkish tents with red tarpaulin coexist with green British tents erected by NHS medics.

In the grounds of the town’s hospital, which was devastated in the earthquake, UK doctors are establishing a field hospital.

Even if the immediate need for medical attention following the earthquake may no longer exist, the 80,000 residents of this area still lack many essential medical services.

Chichester-based general practitioner Dr. Bryony Pointon travelled to Turkey as part of UK-Med, a front-line medical relief organisation supported by the British government.

Although they are somewhat overburdened, she continues, “we are working with the Turkish physicians and nurses that are here, putting up their own tents and visiting patients.

“People with their typical chronic conditions still feel bad after all the trauma, and they lack the resources to handle it. We will thus see as many of those patients as we can.”

Currently, medical professionals from all over the world are in Turkey to assist with the physical wounds.

But both the personal and the collective emotional pain are severe.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.