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Heartwarming pictures show 16 babies pulled from the Turkish earthquake rubble being flown to safety

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Babies who were found alone in the aftermath of the earthquakes that rocked Turkey and Syria and claimed the lives of thousands have been safely transported to Ankara.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plane was used to carry 16 babies from Kahramanmaras to the Turkish capital following the devastating 7.8 and 7.5-magnitude tremors on Monday. 

The plane has been put on standby to be used for earthquake-related activities including carrying medical teams and aid to regions of the country. 

It is also being used to transport critically injured people to Ankara for treatment. 

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones. They were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenboga Airport.   

From there, they were taken to Etlik City Hospital.

The plane has been put on standby to be used for earthquake-related activities including carrying medical teams and aid to regions of the country

The plane has been put on standby to be used for earthquake-related activities including carrying medical teams and aid to regions of the country

The babies were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenboga Airport

The babies were collected by the foster mothers of the Ministry of Family and Social Services from the plane which landed at Esenboga Airport

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones within Turkey

All 16 babies on board the flight were found alone in the earthquake zones within Turkey 

The babies were taken on board of the Presidential plane, which is being used in the effort to send aid to affected areas

The babies were taken on board the presidential plane, which is being used in the effort to send aid to affected areas 

The babies, who are believed to be unharmed, will now be taken into care in the children's organisation affiliated with the Ministry of Family and Social Services

The babies, who are believed to be unharmed, will now be taken into care in the children’s organisation affiliated with the Ministry of Family and Social Services

A woman carries one of the babies off of the plane

A woman carries one of the babies from the aircraft to a waiting ambulance

The babies landed at Esenboga Airport, and were taken straight to Etlik City Hospital from there

Heartwarming images show the infants in the arms of rescuers on board the plane, wrapped in blankets amid a cold snap in the country. 

The pictures show people huddled together on the flight cradling the infants, many of whom are asleep, as they are transported to safety.  

The babies, who are believed to be unharmed, will now be taken into care in the children’s organisation affiliated with the Ministry of Family and Social Services. 

Two of the babies were removed from debris caused by the earthquake, meaning that they have yet to be identified. 

The other 14 were being treated at hospitals in Kahramanmaras at the time of the quake but authorities are as yet unable to reach their families. 

The Turkish President’s wife Emine Erdogan visited the babies at Etlik City Hospital on Wednesday. 

Official figures released yesterday confirmed the deaths of at least 3,500 people during the two quakes.   

The earthquakes were felt in many countries across the Middle East, with Turkey and its war-torn southern neighbour Syria the worst affected.

Thousands of people in both countries are known to have been killed. In Turkey entire apartment blocks crashed to the ground in a matter of seconds following the quakes, trapping families inside and killing thousands.

The United States Geological Survey has recorded more than 60 earthquakes and aftershocks in the region in the last 24 hours. Countries from across the world have offered aid, with rescue workers from Europe, Asia and the Americas all flying in to help the efforts of the emergency services.

The Turkish President's wife Emine Erdogan visited the babies at Etlik City Hospital yesterday

The Turkish President’s wife Emine Erdogan visited the babies at Etlik City Hospital yesterday

Some of the babies were rescued from debris and others from the local hospital

Some of the babies were rescued from debris and others from the local hospital 

The babies have been checked and are believed to be doing well, according to local reports

The babies have been checked and are believed to be doing well, according to local reports 

The volunteers who accompanied the infants to Ankara took them to the hospital in ambulances waiting at the airport

The volunteers who accompanied the infants to Ankara took them to the hospital in ambulances waiting at the airport 

Ambulances were waiting on standby at the airport to take the babies straight to the hospital

Ambulances were waiting on standby at the airport to take the babies straight to the hospital 

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning, while buildings in Israel and Bosnia have been lit up in memory of those who have died.

The initial 7.8-magnitude night-time tremor, followed hours later by a slightly smaller one, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts. 

The later 7.5-magnitude quake struck at 1.24pm (10.24 GMT) two and a half miles southeast of the town of Ekinozu and around 60 miles north of the first quake that wrought devastation across Turkey and Syria. 

The US Geological Survey warned that fatalities from the quakes could reach 10,000. 

Search and rescue workers comb through the rubble of a collapsed 15-storey building in Kahramanmaras, Turkey on Monday evening, as the light begins to fade

Search and rescue workers comb through the rubble of a collapsed 15-storey building in Kahramanmaras, Turkey on Monday evening, as the light begins to fade

Buildings collapsed during the strong tremors that rocked Turkey and Syria. Pictured: A destroyed building is seen in Diyarbakir, in Turkey's Kahramanmaras province

Buildings collapsed during the strong tremors that rocked Turkey and Syria. Pictured: A destroyed building is seen in Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province

A collapsed building is seen following an earthquake in Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey

A collapsed building is seen following an earthquake in Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province, southern Turkey

Tremors from the first deadly quake – which lasted about a minute – were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, and a tsunami warning was briefly issued by authorities in Italy along the country’s coast. The second quake struck about 60 miles from the epicentre of the first, less than 12 hours later

The United States Geological Survey has reported more than 60 tremors over 2.5 in magnitude in the area in the last 24 hours

The United States Geological Survey has reported more than 60 tremors over 2.5 in magnitude in the area in the last 24 hours

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones, sitting in a fault line.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 – the worst to hit Turkey in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

A magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.

And in October that year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit Turkey’s Aegean coast, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.

The last 7.8-magnitude tremor shook Turkey in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern province of Erzincan. 

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