Woman is rescued from ruins five days after quake

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN was dragged from the ruins of Turkey's earthquake yesterday after surviving five nights of freezing temperatures trapped under rubble with her right arm crushed beyond repair.

Sefa Cebeci's escape seems little short of a miracle. Before she was freed, 21 bodies came out of the collapsed building in Duzce. When she was finally pulled out at 3.30am, despairing rescuers were on the point of abandoning the search for survivors.

At night, the temperature is as low as minus 5C. On Tuesday, the rain came in torrents, putting out the fires that are the survivors' only way of keeping warm. Nobody believed that anyone could hold out under the rubble in those conditions. "We knew we would find people under there. We didn't know if they would be alive or dead," said Hasan Aksu, a Turkish translator working with the Israeli rescue team that pulled 42-year-old Ms Cebeci from the rubble.

But her troubles are far from over. Doctors were working to save her life in Istanbul yesterday. "Her right arm was totally crushed. We plan to amputate from the shoulder," Emre Gorgun said. Ms Cebeci is also suffering from kidney failure, triggered by extreme dehydration. "Her situation is still critical," Dr Gorgun said. "We are doing our best."

Ms Cebeci will almost certainly be the last person to be pulled out alive. The death toll has reached 550, and hundreds are still missing. But rescue teams are leaving, believing no one can survive under the rubble any longer.

"The estimation is now that they can't find any more survivors," said Gilad Cohen, from the Israeli embassy in Ankara. "The work now is to take out bodies."

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