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Boy drank rain to survive after Turkey quake

A 13-year-old boy was pulled from a collapsed building without injury on Friday, five days after Turkey's powerful earthquake struck.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 13-year-old boy was pulled from a collapsed building without injury on Friday, five days after Turkey's powerful earthquake struck, and state-run TV said he survived by drinking rain water that seeped through cracks in the wreckage around him.

The boy, Ferhat Tokay, also used shoes under his head as a pillow and peered through a tiny gap in the wreckage to see when it was day or night outside, his uncle said.

Tokay was discovered early Friday morning, soon after rescue workers from Azerbaijan had sent the uncle and other relatives away from the site to get some rest, saying there was no chance of finding the missing boy alive.

"He didn't even have a scratch on him!" the uncle, Sahin Tokay, told NTV television. "He was hungry on the first day, but the hunger pangs later disappeared."

The 7.2 magnitude quake leveled about 2,000 buildings in eastern Turkey on Sunday, killing at least 575 people and leaving about 2,500 injured and thousands of homeless.

Authorities say another 5,700 buildings are now unfit for habitation.

The government's crisis management center said 187 people have been freed from the rubble alive.

Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said search and rescue efforts were continuing "in small sections" of Ercis, the hardest-hit area. "Hopefully we will be successful in pulling out survivors there too," he told reporters.

But news from one of those sites was gloomy. Rescuers recovered the body of a missing father whose 2-week-old baby girl had been pulled alive from the rubble with her mother and grandmother on Tuesday.

Ferhat Tokay was working in a shoe shop on the ground floor of a multistory building in the town when the quake hit. State-run Anatolia news agency said he kept alive by drinking water that reached him in the wreckage during heavy rains.

Turkish rescuers tend to Ferhat Tokay, 13, after he was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in Ercis, Van, Turkey, early Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. Rescuers, working under floodlights, pulled the 13-year-old boy alive from the rubble of the collapsed apartment building 108 hours after Sunday's earthquake that hit eastern Turkey. (AP Photo)Anonymous / AP

'We prayed'
Turkey is mostly Muslim, and in Ercis on Friday many people held traditional Muslim prayers outdoors, in parks or in streets strewn with rubble from the earthquake.

Others prayed in tents or in the few mosques still standing, Anatolia said.

One of them was the Seyid Muhammed mosque. Its only damage is a gaping crack at the foot of its minaret.

As men entered it to pray Friday, its imam, Selahattin Tasdemir, said: "It wouldn't have been considered a sin to not pray today because these people are victims and in a difficult situation."

"But their conscience wouldn't allow it. They're used to praying, so we prayed," he said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.

An unidentified earthquake survivor carries free soup and lemons distributed by Turkish Red Crescent in a tent city set up in a soccer field in Ercis, Van, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. The death toll after the powerful Sunday quake hit eastern Turkey has now reached over 500. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)Burhan Ozbilici / AP

The 213-person Azerbaijani rescue team that saved Tokay on Friday is equipped with sniffer dogs and it has saved nine other people from the wreckage since Sunday night.

On Thursday, the team pulled 18-year-old Imdat Padak from another destroyed building in Ercis. During that effort, rubble hit one of its sniffer dogs, Cip, while it was searching a narrow gap, seriously injuring its paws.

Meanwhile, aid workers delivered tents, prefabricated homes, blankets and heaters from a dozen other countries to the desolate and cold areas hit by the quake.

Survivors complained about a shortage of tents following the quake and the government acknowledged initial difficulties in sending aid. Officials also have said some aid trucks have been looted before reaching Ercis.

Sahin, the interior minister, said the shortage of tents had largely been overcome by Friday.