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Israeli girl buried in quake rubble recovering after dramatic rescue

JERUSALEM, Aug. 22 (JTA) — In a rescue operation that defied shrinking odds, Israeli rescue teams have saved a 9-year-old girl who had been trapped for four days in earthquake rubble in Turkey. Doctors said Shiran Franco was dehydrated but in good condition when they reached her early Saturday morning. Her mother, Iris, who was rescued from the ruins on Thursday, said the first thing her daughter asked for was a soft drink. Shiran also asked her mother why it had taken so long to reach her. “They worked very hard,” Iris Franco responded. Israeli teams on Saturday also recovered the bodies of Shiran’s twin brother, her father and grandparents. The bodies of another Israeli couple who had been vacationing in the resort town of Cinarcik were also found. Rescue units reached Shiran around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning in the wreckage of an apartment building where she had been staying with her family. Maj. Eran Magen, who first spotted Shiran, said he decided to drill a hole in what he believed was the room in which the children had been sleeping. “I drilled a hole and looked inside, and thought I saw a hand,” Magen said. “I yelled down, and I think was answered. I ordered everyone to turn off the [drilling] equipment. From there, everything started moving quickly.” The reunited mother and daughter were flown back to Israel on Saturday, where the girl was hospitalized at Sheba hospital in Tel Hashomer. Doctors marveled at her condition in light of the circumstances. They said she would remain hospitalized until she was fully rehydrated, and until doctors could determine whether there is damage to internal organs or muscles. Family members said Shiran has no recollection of the earthquake. Her mother said her daughter thought she had been in a car accident. Israeli aid efforts, including a field hospital, continue to operate in Turkey. Some of the several tons of food, clothing and blankets collected in Israel for the earthquake victims were due to be sent to Turkey on Monday.

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