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Algeria rescuer recalls saving 3-month-old baby from rubble in quake-hit Turkiye

Baby is rescued under the rubble of 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkiye on February 07, 2023 [İzzet Mazı/Anadolu Agency]
Baby is rescued under the rubble of 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkiye on February 07, 2023 [İzzet Mazı/Anadolu Agency]

The head of an Algerian rescue team cannot forget the moment his rescuers pulled out a 3-month-old baby from under the rubble in Adiyaman city in southern Turkiye, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Col. Farouk Achour said his rescue team managed to rescue 13 people from under the debris of collapsed buildings in Adiyaman.

"We didn't have a minute to lose. There was a huge destruction in the city," Achour told Anadolu on Monday.

He said the earthquake disaster "was the most devastating he has ever seen".

"We didn't feel like foreigners at all. We acted with the spirit of carrying out a work in our own country," he added.

At least 41,156 people were killed and 105,505 others injured in two powerful earthquakes that rocked southern Turkiye on 6 February, according to the latest official figures.

The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.

In Syria, at least 5,840 people have been killed in the deadly earthquakes.

Emotional bond

Achour said all search and rescue efforts in quake-hit areas had a very serious emotional impact on him and his team members.

"Any rescue operation takes no less than seven hours. During this time, you establish a bond with the person under the debris," he said.

With teary eyes, the Algerian rescuer recalls the moment of saving a 3-month-old baby from under the rubble.

"Our operation to rescue the baby whose parents had lost their lives under the rubble touched us all," he said.

"We heard the cry of the baby from under the rubble. We tried to contact any family member but with no luck," he added.

"We mobilised all the means at our disposal, all our experience, all our technical tools to save this baby," Achour said. "With the help of a doctor, we managed to feed him."

The rescuer continued, "We had to move very quickly and work very carefully; we had worked for days in cold weather without rest."

"After 11 hours of continuous work, we were able to pull the baby out from under the debris. That was more valuable to us than anything else," Achour recalled.


A week after the earthquake, the Algerian team also managed to rescue a 17-year-old girl.

"We also rescued an elderly man from under the rubble. We started to call him 'Grandpa'. After he got treated, Grandpa came to us and was by our side during all of our stay," Achour said.

Achour thanked volunteer translators who provided help to his team during their rescue efforts."Our translators were very helpful nice young people. They taught us some key words in Turkish so we managed to communicate better with people under the rubble."

Achour also paid tribute to the role of the Turkish disaster agency, AFAD, the Turkish Red Crescent and other authorities.

The 86-strong Algerian search team returned to Algeria on 14 February.

Algeria also dispatched a medical mission, 95 tons of humanitarian aid and $30 million in support to Turkiye following the earthquake disaster.

Since the earthquakes, more than 16 Arab countries have announced the establishment of air bridges, to provide urgent relief to support Turkiye and Syria.

READ: Newborn baby rescued from rubble with umbilical cord still attached

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