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Turkish teen filmed ‘last moments’ from quake-hit apartment

Ten hours after the quake, his parents and siblings were also saved by local residents who dug at the wreck of the building with their bare hands and whatever tools they could find.

When The Associated Press spoke to the family on Thursday they were living in a government-provided tent, along with hundreds of thousands of others who survived the disaster that hit southern Türkiye and north Syria, killing more than 43,000.

“This is my home,” said Taha’s mother Zeliha, 37, as she watched excavators digging up their old life and dumping it into heavy trucks.

“Boom-boom-boom, the building went down floor by floor on top of us,” she recalled, describing how she had kept yelling her son’s name while trapped under the debris in the hope that all five of them could die together as a family.

The Erdems’ younger children – daughter Semanur, 13, and 9-year-old son Yigit Cinar – were sleeping in their parents’ room when the quake hit.

But Taha could not hear his mother’s calls through the mass of concrete. Nor could she hear her son’s cries in the dark, and both believed the other was lying dead in the destroyed building.

It was only when Zeliha, her husband Ali, 47, a hospital cleaner, and the other children were taken to her sister’s home that they realised Taha had survived.

“The world was mine at that moment,” Zeliha said. “I have nothing, but I have my kids.”

The story of the Erdem family is one of many emotional tales of human fortitude to emerge from the widespread disaster area. Many vividly recount the horrors of being trapped beneath their homes.

Ibrahim Zakaria, a 23-year-old Syrian who was rescued in the coastal Syrian town of Jableh on Feb 10, told the AP that he survived by licking water dripping down the wall next to him, slipping in and out of consciousness and losing hope of survival in his waking moments.

“I almost surrendered because I thought I will die,” he said from his hospital bed. “I thought: ‘There is no escape.’”

In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 17-year-old Adnan Muhammed Korkut, was trapped for four days before he was rescued. He told the private IHA news agency that he grew so thirsty that he drank his own urine.