Turkiye-Syria quake toll tops 7,900 with fears toll could rise
A massive rescue effort in Turkiye and Syria battled frigid weather in a race against time Tuesday to find survivors under buildings flattened by an earthquake that killed more than 7,900 people.
People on the streets were trying to keep warm by burning debris as a result of the tremors, which added to the suffering of a border region already beset by conflict.
As a global relief effort promised food, search teams, and equipment for the disaster zone, heavy equipment was being used by rescuers to fix apartments that had fallen over.
Miracle rescue, but there have also been extraordinary tales of survival, like the one of a newborn baby who was pulled alive from the rubble in Syria while still attached by her umbilical cord to her mother, who died in the earthquake on Monday.
A relative, Khalil al-Suwadi, told AFP, “We heard a voice while we were digging.” After clearing the debris, we discovered the baby’s intact umbilical cord, cut it, and my cousin took her to the hospital.
The infant is the only member of her immediate family who survived; the remaining members perished in the town of Jindayris, which was held by rebels.
Imam Caglar, 42, of Sanliurfa, Turkey, stated, “We live on the first floor out of three, we’re too scared to return.” He was unable to return home. Our building is completely unsafe.
In the Syrian city of Aleppo, Mahmud al-Ali stated, “My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and two of my father-in-law’s sons (are) trapped.” We are waiting for the rescuers to begin digging while sitting here in the rain and cold.
On Monday, the 7.8-magnitude quake struck as people were sleeping, leveling thousands of buildings, engulfing unknown numbers of people and potentially affecting millions.
Some of the most extensive damage was caused near the quake’s epicenter, between the Turkiye cities of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras, where rows of buildings fell.
Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in ten southeastern provinces on Tuesday as a result of the destruction.
In the town of Jableh in northwestern Syria, rescue workers look for survivors as fears mount that the death toll will rise. PHOTO: AFP A winter storm has made the situation worse by making many roads almost impassable, some of which were damaged by the earthquake. This has caused traffic jams that can last for kilometers in some areas.
People who were evicted from their homes and sought refuge in mosques, schools, or even bus shelters, as well as survivors who were buried under debris, are at risk from the freezing rain and snow.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, stated, “It is now a race against time.”
He continued, “We have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide vital health care for the injured and most vulnerable.”
WHO officials estimate that up to 20,000 people may have died, which raises concerns that the death toll will unavoidably rise.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning that the massive earthquake could have an impact on as many as 23 million people and urged nations to provide assistance as soon as possible to the affected area.
As President Bashar al-Assad’s government remains a pariah in the West, making international relief efforts more difficult, the Syrian Red Crescent appealed to Western nations to lift sanctions and provide assistance.
The destruction in Syria was being addressed by humanitarian programs, Washington and the European Commission said on Monday.
“My family under rubble”: UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, also said it was ready to help after damage was done to two World Heritage sites in Turkey and Syria.
According to UNESCO, at least three additional World Heritage sites could be affected, in addition to the destruction of Aleppo’s old city and the fortress in the southeast Turkiye city of Diyarbakir.
Years of war and aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russian forces, which resulted in the destruction of homes, hospitals, and clinics, have already decimated a significant portion of the quake-affected region of northern Syria.
The only tools available to them for searching for survivors were pickaxes and their bare hands in the devastated town of Jandairis in northern Syria.
Ali Battal, whose face was streaked with blood and whose head was wrapped in a wool shawl to protect it from the bitter cold, said, “My whole family is under there – my sons, my daughter, and my son-in-law… There’s no one else to get them out.”
“Their voices come to me. The man in his 60s adds, “I know they’re alive, but there’s no one to save them.”
In the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus, where Russia leases a naval facility, the Syrian health ministry reported damage.
Buildings in Aleppo, Syria’s pre-war commercial hub, frequently collapsed due to the deteriorating infrastructure even before the tragedy.
According to a source at the facility, at least 20 inmates escaped from a jail in northwestern Syria following the earthquake. The facility held mostly members of the Islamic State group.
Offers of assistance The United States, Russia, and the European Union led international condolence and assistance messages.
The United States, as promised by President Joe Biden to his Turkiye counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will send “any and all” aid to assist with recovery.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, offered to provide Turkiye, whose combat drones are assisting Kyiv in fighting the Russian invasion, with “the necessary assistance.”
Tuesday, the Chinese state media reported that Beijing was sending supplies, medical teams, and rescuers.
Pakistan has already sent planes loaded with search and rescue teams for emergency aid.
Additionally, airplane delivery of relief supplies and search teams from other nations has begun.
However, individuals in some of the most affected areas expressed a sense of helplessness.
Turkiye is located in one of the most active earthquake zones in the world.
In 1999, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake killed more than 17,000 people in the Turkiye region of Duzce.
Experts have been warning for a long time that Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people with rickety homes, could be devastated by a large earthquake.