Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Mom Breastfed Baby While Buried in Rubble and Says Son's Strength Helped Her Survive

"If my baby hadn't been strong enough to handle this, I wouldn't have been either," Necla Camuz, 33, said of being trapped for nearly four days with her son under debris

10-day-old baby Yagiz Ulas
A 10-day-old baby boy was rescued from the rubble. Photo: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Despite the odds, a mother and her newborn child survived on little more than hope and breast milk for nearly four days while trapped under debris following the devastating earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria last week.

The woman, Necla Camuz, and her 10-day-old baby, Yagiz Ulas, were rescued from the rubble of their former home more than 90 hours after the earthquake struck Feb. 6, according to Turkish state media.

Yagiz and his mom, 33, were inside their home in Turkey's Hatay province at the time, as were Camuz's husband of six years, Irfan, and her 3-year-old son, Yigit Kerim, according to the BBC.

Camuz was buried holding Yagiz, who was lying on her chest at the time of the quake. The two remained stuck for days underneath the five-story building, located in the town of Samandah.

The mom told the BBC she "was terrified" that no one would come to their rescue. Camuz said she did not believe she would survive, but relied on Yagiz for hope. She now credits her newborn for saving her life.

"I think if my baby hadn't been strong enough to handle this, I wouldn't have been either," she explains.

10-day-old baby Yagiz Ulas
The newborn was rescued along with his mother. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

At first, Camuz attempted to get rescuers' attention by banging on a wardrobe that had saved their lives by stopping them from being crushed by concrete. But for days, her pleas went unheard.

Camuz managed to breastfeed her son as they waited for help, but was unable to consume any food or water of her own, according to the BBC.

At one point, she attempted to drink her own breast milk.

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On the third day, Camuz suddenly heard the sound of dogs barking and voices approaching. Soon after, she was found.

The mom and son were not seriously injured despite their ordeal. The two were discharged from the hospital 24 hours after they were admitted.

Camuz's husband Irfan and eldest son Yigit also survived, she said. They suffered serious injuries to their legs and feet.

Now, Camuz and her family of 13 are homeless. But she is thankful to be alive, and is happy her son will have little memory of the harrowing experience.

"I'm very happy he's a newborn baby and won't remember anything," she says.

More than 35,000 people have died from last week's earthquake, according to NBC News. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called it "the disaster of the century."

To help earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria, consider donating to these organizations: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, GlobalGiving, Save the Children, and The Syrian American Medical Society.

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