A Turkish couple, who were rescued by a young Syrian refugee following the earthquake in Turkey’s eastern province of Elazig on Friday, met with their rescuer, state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) reported on Sunday.
Durdane and Zulkuf Aydin had been trying to find their rescuer to thank Mahmud el Osman following their ordeal.
The meeting with Osman, who is studying at Elazig’s Firat University, came after he later inquired from an AA reporter about the well-being of the couple he had rescued.
“His [Osman’s] hands were covered in blood while trying to save us, but he was only concerned for our well being,” Durdane said in tears during the meeting.
The Syrian youngster said he ran to the scene as soon as he heard their help cries and began removing debris by digging with his hands. The couple’s “hero,” alongside some others, rescued them from the rubble of their building.
“He [Osman] is a Syrian studying here [Elazig], while his family is in Idlib [Syria], which made me feel sorry for him. I cannot find a word [to express my feelings].
[Later,] he also helped AKUT [Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association] and other public authorities [in their rescue operations],” Zulkuf told reporters.
The powerful earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.8, hit eastern Turkey on Friday evening, killing 35 people in Elazig and 4 in Malatya, a neighboring province.
Some 1,600 others were injured, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
The earthquake caused buildings to collapse and sent panicked residents rushing into the street.
A woman and her infant daughter were pulled out alive from a collapsed building by the rescue teams who had begun winding down their rescue operations on Sunday in temperatures as low as -4 C (24.8°F).
Thousands of rescue team members, as well as hundreds of volunteers, had pulled 45 people from the collapsed buildings so far, the AFAD said.
Rescue teams in Elazig were still looking for the three people that are reportedly still missing.
“We are still hopeful [for the missing ones], we haven’t lost hope,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told broadcaster CNN Turk on Sunday.
AFAD warned the public not to enter damaged buildings as further 844 aftershocks have been recorded so far.
Turkey is prone to frequent earthquakes as it lies on major faultlines.
A devastating 7.4 magnitude quake struck the western province of Izmit in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people, including some 1,000 in neighboring Istanbul, the country’s largest city with more than 15 million people.
Experts have long criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for its reluctance to take measures in preparation for a possible earthquake and instead allowing numerous buildings to be constructed that do not meet the minimum earthquake safety requirements.
A 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit Istanbul in September last year.
Speaking to CNN Turk news channel on Sunday, the interior minister said they were expecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul and seriously working on
the possible earthquake scenarios.