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'I asked for a body bag… then she grabbed my thumb': Girl, three, pulled from rubble three days after Turkish earthquake waves from hospital bed as firefighter describes miraculous rescue

 A three-year-old girl who had been trapped for three days under the rubble of a deadly earthquake in a Turkish coastal city has miraculously survived. 

Firefighter Muammer Celik found Elif Perincek lying motionless, covered in dust, and he asked a colleague for a body bag.

But as Mr Celik extended his arm to wipe her face clean, she opened her eyes and grabbed hold of his thumb.

'That's where we saw a miracle,' Celik, of the Istanbul fire department's search-and-rescue team, told The Associated Press, recounting Monday's operation 65 hours after the quake hit, killing at least 94 people in Turkey and Greece. 

Elif is now being treated in hospital and has been pictured waving while clutching a bright pink fairy wand.  

It was the second dramatic rescue Monday after a 14-year-old was also pulled out alive. Onlookers applauded with joy and wept with relief at both scenes in the Turkish city of Izmir, where the vast majority of the deaths and nearly 1,000 injuries have occurred. 

Two teenagers also died and 19 people were injured on the Greek island of Samos, near the quake's epicenter in the Aegean Sea.

3-year-old pulled out of rubble alive after 65 hours in Turkey
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Three-year-old Elif Perincek
Three-year-old Elif Perincek

Three-year-old Elif Perincek clutches the thumb of a rescuer after she was saved after 65 hours trapped in the rubble of an apartment building in the Turkish city of Izmir

Three-year-old girl Elif Perincek rests in her hospital bed after she was rescued from the rubble of a building some 65 hours after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Monday

Three-year-old girl Elif Perincek rests in her hospital bed after she was rescued from the rubble of a building some 65 hours after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Monday

The US Geological Survey rated the quake 7.0, though other agencies recorded it as less severe. Many buildings were completely reduced to rubble or saw several floors pancake in on themselves in Turkey, which has a mix of older buildings and cheap or illegal construction that do not withstand earthquakes well. 

Regulations have been tightened to strengthen or demolish older buildings, and urban renewal is underway in Turkish cities, but it is not happening fast enough.

On Monday, authorities detained nine people for questioning about six building collapses, including contractors and officials who approved plans, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Celik, whose team was among several who traveled to Izmir, said he found Elif Perincek lying on her back between her bed and a closet in a space that was just big enough for her.

'At first I was very upset,' he said. 'Then I stretched out my hand to clean her face and she grabbed my thumb. ... I froze because right before that moment, I had asked my team for a blanket and a body bag.'

His voice breaking with emotion, he added: 'This is a firefighter's joy.'

The child spent nearly three full days in the wreckage of her apartment and became the 106th person to be pulled alive from the rubble. Her mother and two sisters, 10-year-old twins, were rescued two days earlier. Her six-year-old brother did not survive.

Elif Perincek, a three-year-old earthquake survivor, is pictured at a hospital after she was rescued from a collapsed building in the Aegean port city of Izmir

Elif Perincek, a three-year-old earthquake survivor, is pictured at a hospital after she was rescued from a collapsed building in the Aegean port city of Izmir

Three-year-old Elif waves from her hospital bed as she recovers from being trapped beneath the rubble for days

Three-year-old Elif waves from her hospital bed as she recovers from being trapped beneath the rubble for days

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that both Elif and 14-year-old Idil Sirin were doing well.

Video broadcast by HaberTurk television showed Elif holding a doll and waving at a camera from her hospital bed, with one eye slightly swollen.

Elsewhere in Izmir, rescue workers scrambled to find more survivors used listening devices to detect any signs of life.

'Can anyone hear me?' a team leader shouted, asking possible survivors to bang against surfaces three times if they could.

Officials said 147 quake survivors were still hospitalized, and three of them were in serious condition.

The quake also triggered a small tsunami that hit Samos and the Seferihisar district of Izmir province, where one elderly woman drowned. The tremors were felt across western Turkey, including in Istanbul as well as in the Greek capital of Athens. Hundreds of aftershocks followed.

Turkey sits on top of fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey. Earthquake are frequent in Greece as well.  

Rescue workers clapped as 14-year-old Idil Sirin was removed from the rubble, after being trapped for 58 hours. Her eight-year-old sister, Ipek, did not survive, NTV television reported. 

Three-year-old Elif Perincek
Three-year-old Elif Perincek

Three-year-old Elif Perincek clutches the thumb of a rescuer after she was saved after 65 hours trapped in the rubble of an apartment building in the Turkish city of Izmir

Three-year-old girl Elif Perincek rests in her hospital bed after she was rescued from the rubble of a building some 65 hours after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Monday

Three-year-old girl Elif Perincek rests in her hospital bed after she was rescued from the rubble of a building some 65 hours after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Monday

Elif Perincek, a three-year-old earthquake survivor, is pictured at a hospital after she was rescued from a collapsed building in the Aegean port city of Izmir

Elif Perincek, a three-year-old earthquake survivor, is pictured at a hospital after she was rescued from a collapsed building in the Aegean port city of Izmir

Three-year-old Elif waves from her hospital bed as she recovers from being trapped beneath the rubble for days

Three-year-old Elif waves from her hospital bed as she recovers from being trapped beneath the rubble for days

The little girl is carried to safety on a stretcher after she was rescued from the rubble early on Monday

The little girl is carried to safety on a stretcher after she was rescued from the rubble early on Monday

Three-year-old Elif holds a rescuers hand after she was saved from the rubble
Three-year-old Elif

Three-year-old Elif holds a rescuers hand after she was saved from the rubble - she became the 106th person to be rescued alive

Rescue workers carry 14-year-old Idil Sirin after she was extracted from a collapsed building early on Monday in the disaster-struck city of Izmir, Turkey

Rescue workers carry 14-year-old Idil Sirin after she was extracted from a collapsed building early on Monday in the disaster-struck city of Izmir, Turkey

Crowds surrounded rescue workers after they freed 14-year-old Idil Sirin after 58 hours trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Izmir

Crowds surrounded rescue workers after they freed 14-year-old Idil Sirin after 58 hours trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Izmir

Three-year-old girl, Elif Perincek, is pulled from the debris after 65 hours under the rubble following a magnitude 6.6 quake shook Turkey's Aegean Sea coast, in Izmir

Three-year-old girl, Elif Perincek, is pulled from the debris after 65 hours under the rubble following a magnitude 6.6 quake shook Turkey's Aegean Sea coast, in Izmir

Idil Sirin, 14, who was under the rubble for 58 hours, is carried away after she was rescued from the collapsed Emrah building, Izmir

Idil Sirin, 14, who was under the rubble for 58 hours, is carried away after she was rescued from the collapsed Emrah building, Izmir

'A thousand thanks to you, my God. We have brought out our little one Elif from the apartment block,' Mehmet Gulluoglu, head of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), wrote on Twitter.

Onlookers applauded as ambulances carrying the girls rushed to hospitals immediately after their rescue.

Close to a thousand people were injured in the quake, which was centred in the Aegean Sea, north-east of the Greek island of Samos. It killed two teenagers on Samos and injured at least 19 other people on the island. 

There was some debate over the magnitude of the earthquake. The US Geological Survey rated it 7.0, while Istanbul's Kandilli Institute put it at 6.9 and Turkey's emergency management agency said it measured 6.6.

The quake triggered a small tsunami that hit Samos and the Seferihisar district of Izmir, drowning one elderly woman.

The tremors were felt across western Turkey, including in Istanbul as well as in the Greek capital of Athens. Hundreds of aftershocks followed.

Residents' belongings can been seen in the rubble of collapsed buildings in the coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, today

Residents' belongings can been seen in the rubble of collapsed buildings in the coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, today

Search and rescue teams look for victims at the site of a collapsed building in Izmir today

Search and rescue teams look for victims at the site of a collapsed building in Izmir today

A drone photo shows search and rescue works continue at collapsed Riza Bey Apartment building today

A drone photo shows search and rescue works continue at collapsed Riza Bey Apartment building today

Search and rescue teams look for victims at the site of a collapsed building in Izmir today after the powerful earthquake struck

Search and rescue teams look for victims at the site of a collapsed building in Izmir today after the powerful earthquake struck

A drone photo shows search and rescue works continue at collapsed Riza Bey Apartment building

A drone photo shows search and rescue works continue at collapsed Riza Bey Apartment building

Search and rescue teams are still desperately trying to find any more survivors left trapped in the rubble from the massive earthquake

Search and rescue teams are still desperately trying to find any more survivors left trapped in the rubble from the massive earthquake

Masses of workers are seen looking through collapsed buildings to try and find any survivors left after the earthquake

Masses of workers are seen looking through collapsed buildings to try and find any survivors left after the earthquake

Members of rescue services search in the debris of a collapsed building for survivors in Izmir, Turkey

Members of rescue services search in the debris of a collapsed building for survivors in Izmir, Turkey

Members of rescue services work on the debris of a collapsed building in Izmir, Turkey, Sunday

Members of rescue services work on the debris of a collapsed building in Izmir, Turkey, Sunday

A member of rescue services with a dog, walks past a destroyed building in Izmir, Turkey

A member of rescue services with a dog, walks past a destroyed building in Izmir, Turkey


Rescue teams continue ploughing through concrete blocs and debris of collapsed buildings in Turkey's third largest city on Sunday

Rescue teams continue ploughing through concrete blocs and debris of collapsed buildings in Turkey's third largest city on Sunday

Turkey has a mix of older buildings and cheap or illegal construction, which can lead to serious damage and deaths when earthquakes hit.

Regulations have been tightened in light of earthquakes to strengthen or demolish buildings and urban renewal is under way in Turkish cities, but it is not happening fast enough. 

More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to AFAD, which said 962 people had been injured in Friday's earthquake.

Rescue teams continue ploughing through concrete blocs and debris of collapsed buildings in Turkey's third largest city in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake

Rescue teams continue ploughing through concrete blocs and debris of collapsed buildings in Turkey's third largest city in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake

A man sleeps outdoors on Sunday after an eathquake destroyed homes in Izmir, Turkey

A man sleeps outdoors on Sunday after an eathquake destroyed homes in Izmir, Turkey

More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to AFAD, which said 962 people had been injured in Friday's earthquake

More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to AFAD, which said 962 people had been injured in Friday's earthquake 

More than 740 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, AFAD said.

It was the deadliest earthquake in Turkey since one in the eastern city of Van in 2011 which killed more than 500 people. A quake in January this year killed 41 people in the eastern province of Elazig.

Turkey sits on top of fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 1999, two powerful quakes killed some 18,000 people in north-western Turkey. Earthquakes are frequent in Greece as well.

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