In order to search an earthquake-damaged home in Antakya for a cell phone belonged to a 75-year-old mother who worried her son was dead after five days without contact, a Turkish soldier climbed into the bucket of an excavator on Saturday.
The woman, who identified herself only as Mama Busra, was waiting to call her son in a nearby park where tents had been erected for those made homeless by last week’s deadly earthquake. She had asked charity workers to locate her phone.
Responding to her plea, Murathan Adil, a special ops soldier who had come to the southern city from Ankara to help with rescues, was raised to the second-floor balcony of the remains of her building.
On a narrow street turned into a cul-de-sac by the quake’s destruction, the building’s basement had collapsed, its facade had partially caved in, windows were smashed and cracks exposed.
Once Adil reached the balcony, another rescue worker inside handed him a red bag containing Mama Busra’s belongings, including her phone, before the excavator lowered him back down.
Pausing briefly to help load bodies dug from neighbouring buildings onto a hearse, Adil headed to the park where Mama Busra waited anxiously.
The phone’s battery had died before she could call her son. But another person in the small building in the park heard the name of her son and said he knew him, and that he was alive and well.
The person dialed the son’s number on his phone. He answered – and Mama Busra broke into tears hearing her son’s voice for the first time since the earthquake struck five days earlier.
“It’s like you gave me the world,” Mama Busra said of the moment she heard her son’s voice.