Filipino worker rescued after 60 hours under Turkey quake rubble | Global News

Filipino worker rescued after 60 hours under Turkey quake rubble

By: - Correspondent / @VillVisayaJrINQ
/ 05:30 AM February 12, 2023

Julieva Benlingan

Julieva Benlingan (Photo courtesy of MARIBEL BENLINGAN-LIYAB)

SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela, Philippines — For the family of 33-year-old overseas Filipino worker Julieva Benlingan, her rescue after 60 hours under tons of rubble from an earthquake-devastated apartment building in Hatay, Turkey, was the answer to their fervent prayers.

“It was God’s miracle. His greatness worked wonders. We are grateful for the second life of our sister,” said Benlingan’s eldest sibling, Maribel Liyab.


Benlingan, a single mother, was initially believed to be among those who died during the magnitude 7.8 tremor that hit Turkey and nearby Syria early morning on Feb. 6.


Liyab, 44, said that her sister’s employer called her at her residence in Lagawe, Ifugao province, on Monday to tell her the heartbreaking news that they had been unable to locate Julieva, who was reported dead by another tenant at their apartment building in Antakya City, the capital of Hatay, Turkey’s southernmost province that borders Syria.

‘It’s a miracle’

But on Wednesday night, the employer called back with very good news — Benlingan was found alive.

“It is a miracle. She is alive. She was brought out of the rubble alive,” Liyab said, quoting the employer.

On Feb. 8 at 9:30 p.m. (Philippine time), Benlingan was recovered from the rubble by rescue workers.

“We were computing the hours and it took her 60 hours under the rubble at the fallen building before she was rescued alive. Her employer was rescued nine hours after the earthquake,” Liyab, the eldest among the nine Benlingan siblings, said in a phone interview on Friday.

Except for dehydration and the cuts on her head, face, and feet, her sister suffered no other injuries, according to doctors, Liyab said.


“When her employer called us and said sorry for your loss, I told her employer that if she [employer] was not the one who saw Julieva dead, we [the Benlingan family] would not believe it. I told her employer, we will hold here and pray for God’s miracle,” Liyab said, adding that they continuously prayed for the safe rescue of their sister.

Benlingan, who has one child, decided to work abroad as a domestic helper, Liyab said, giving no details about her sister’s child.

Benlingan worked for three years in Hong Kong before she moved to Turkey where she has been working for over the past four years — two years with her first employer before she started working for her current employer.

Her two wards, the children of her employer, reportedly did not stop looking for her.

Liyab said she had not yet spoken with her sister who was still undergoing treatment.

She added that her sister’s employer, who was also being treated for injuries, would shoulder the hospital expenses.

Two members of the Filipino search and rescue contingent do a sweep of a building that collapsed in the city of Adiyaman in southeastern Turkey

PINOY RESCUERS | Two members of the Filipino search and rescue contingent do a sweep of a building that collapsed in the city of Adiyaman in southeastern Turkey in this Feb. 10, 2023 photo. The 82-man search and rescue group includes military personnel. (Photo by  ANGELO MANGAOANG / Office of Civil Defense)


As of Saturday morning, international news outlets reported that the death toll in the region had reached 23,700 as search and rescue operations continued.

In the Turkish capital of Ankara, the Philippine Embassy said it was working to repatriate the remains of Wilma Tezcan, 45, one of two Filipinos who were confirmed to have died in Antakya City.

The embassy said in a statement on Feb. 11 that four Filipino families have been evacuated from the city of Gaziantep, more than 200 kilometers away from Antakya.

“Sprinter buses transported the distressed Filipinos roughly 700 kilometers for shelter in the Turkish capital of Ankara,” it said in a statement.

Several Filipinos in Gaziantep chose to stay behind in their homes with their families with the embassy providing relief supplies and medical assistance.PH rescue team

The 82-man search and rescue team sent by the Philippine government arrived in Istanbul on Feb. 10. The group’s initial base of operation was in the province of Adiyaman from where they would sweep through 10 other affected provinces where 219 Filipinos reportedly lived.

The team carried with them 13,412 kilos of medical supplies and equipment; hospital tents and personnel shelter; search, rescue, and retrieval equipment; and food rations.

The Philippine Embassy in Syria has yet to confirm if any Filipinos died in the quake there.

Appeal to Marcos

Tezcan’s father, William Abulad, 67, said the family was desperate to bring home the remains of his daughter.

Irish Nicole, his 25-year-old granddaughter, said her mother’s body was being kept in refrigerated storage.

Abulad appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to help to repatriate his daughter’s remains after learning that bodies of quake victims were being buried in mass graves. He was distraught over the thought that this might be his daughter’s final resting place.

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Tezcan’s husband, who is Muslim, was willing to have his wife buried in the Philippines as long as it conforms to Islamic tradition, Abulad said.



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TAGS: Filipinos in Turkey, Turkey earthquake

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