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File image: Civilians look for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras. Image Credit: AFP

Istanbul: A 17-year-old woman was rescued on Thursday from the rubble of a building that collapsed in the southern central province of Kahramanmaras.

Aleyna Olmez was rescued 248 hours after the 7.8-magnitude quake flattened entire cities, killing nearly 40,000 people across southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria.

"She looked to be in good health. She opened and closed her eyes," coal miner Ali Akdogan, who took part in the rescue effort, told AFP in Kahramanmaras, a city near the quake's epicentre. "We have been working here in this building for a week now... We came here with the hope of hearing sounds," he said.

"We are happy whenever we find a living thing - even a cat."

The girl's uncle tearfully hugged the rescuers one by one, saying: "We will never forget you."

The state broadcaster TRT Haber reported the rescue on Thursday. The tremors killed 36,187 people in Turkey while wounding more than 108,000, according to the latest death toll announced on Thursday. Thousands more died in neighboring Syria.

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Turkey's disaster management agency, AFAD, said more than 4,300 aftershocks hit the area since the first earthquake.

A woman in her 40s was rescued in Turkey on Wednesday after surviving 222 hours in the rubble, Turkish broadcaster TRT World reported. But hopes of finding more survivors continue to fade.

The health needs of survivors in Turkey and Syria are vast, officials from the World Health Organization said Wednesday. "The search and rescue phase is now coming to an end, but for WHO, the task of saving lives is only just beginning," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization's secretary general, said in a news briefing.

Rescue efforts winding down

Emirati search and rescue crew rescued the mother, two daughters and a son of a Syrian family were rescued from the ruins of the wreckage of their home following the recent earthquake in Turkey. Image Credit: WAM | Screengrab

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said close to 8,000 rescue and aid workers from 74 countries were still assisting Turkish teams in their efforts. Around 4,200 personnel from 15 countries have left, he said.

Onlookers at Istanbul Airport clapped to display gratitude to a 27-member team of Greek rescuers who were heading back home after ending their mission to search for survivors in the hard-hit city of Adiyaman.

Team leader Ioannis Papastathis told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency late Wednesday that he was leaving Turkey with “unforgettable memories.”

“On the one hand, there was love and the warm welcome of the people, on the other hand, suffering. The destruction was huge. The weather was cold. These affected me a lot,” the agency quoted him as saying.

Rebuilding homes

Turkey would need to construct about a million new homes in the 10 provinces hit by the February 6 earthquakes, according to a property developer, signaling the massive rebuilding effort that needs to be undertaken.

This photograph shows a teddy bear on the rubble of a collapsed building on February 12, 2023 in Kahramanmaras, as rescue teams starts to wind down their work after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the border region of Turkey and Syria. Image Credit: AFP

"That's an optimistic estimate," Ekonomi newspaper cited Altan Elmas, head of the Association of Housing Developers and Investors, as saying in an interview. "Most of the buildings that still stand need to be demolished, too."

Elmas estimated the cost of destroyed dwellings and infrastructure at $100 billion.

Attempted kidnap of baby

Turkish police have detained a man trying to steal a baby from a hospital in southern Turkey, state media reported.

A man walked into a hospital pretending to be a police chief in the Samandag district of the quake-affected province of Hatay, the Anadolu state news agency said Wednesday. The hospital staff realised his police ID card was fake and called the real police, it added.

When officers detained the man, they found fake police and military ID cards, gold and money in Turkish lira, dollars and euros worth around $6,500, Anadolu said. The agency did not provide information about the baby.

Some parents in the region  expressed alarm to AFP over rumoured child kidnappings. Turkish Family Minister Derya Yanik on Monday said at least 1,362 children had been separated from their families by the quake.

- AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg