Türkiye-Syria earthquake: An insane rise in the number of dead and injuries with hundreds of families under the rubble


Pictures of a newborn baby girl, who was pulled alive from under the rubble of a building, and a father embracing his late daughter, who was stuck between two concrete slabs, revealed the horror of the earthquake, whose death toll continues to rise, reaching 8,300 people so far in Türkiye and Syria.

According to the latest official figures announced on Wednesday, 5,894 people were killed in Türkiye and 2,470 in Syria, bringing the total death toll to 8,364.

In the bitter cold weather, relief workers continue their race against time to try to rescue survivors of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck at dawn on Monday in southeastern Türkiye and neighboring Syria.

Bad weather complicates rescue operations.

On Tuesday, Türkiye’s interior minister warned that the next 48 hours would be crucial for finding survivors.

In Gaziantep, the town very close to the epicenter of the earthquake, a resident said that she had lost hope of finding her aunt, who was trapped under the rubble, alive.

“It’s too late…  Now we are waiting for our dead,” she added.

International aid began arriving in Türkiye, where seven days of national mourning were declared.

The death toll so far has reached 5,894, in what is considered the worst death toll recorded in Türkiye since 1999, when 17,000 people were killed, including 1,000 in Istanbul.

In Syria, the death toll has reached 2,470 people so far.

It’s expected that the death toll will rise significantly, as hundreds of people are still trapped under the rubble, according to the White Helmets (Civil Defense volunteers) in areas under the control of the opposition factions.

On both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border, work is underway to try to save lives.

In Jenderes, on the Syrian side, a newborn baby girl was pulled from the rubble.

This little girl was still connected by the umbilical cord to her mother, who was killed, like all the other members of the family.

Khalil Sawadi, one of the family members, told AFP on Tuesday, “We heard a sound while we were digging… We cleaned and found this little girl,” who was taken to the hospital and her condition is stable, according to a doctor who told AFP.

But for Irmak, 15, it’s too late, as his father, Mesut Hanger, was silently holding his dead daughter, who was pulled from the rubble of a building in Kahramanmaraş.

No help arrived Tuesday in this devastated city of more than a million people covered in snow.

Ali asked, “Where is the state? Where is it?  Two days passed and we didn’t see anyone… The children froze to death,” he said, stressing that he too was waiting for reinforcements and still hoped to see his brother and nephew trapped under the rubble of the building where they were staying.

In the northern Syrian city of Soran, Mahmoud Primo fell to his knees in front of the rubble of his home.

Not far away, the gray dome attests to the existence of a mosque there.

“Years of war didn’t destroy us in this way,” he said.

“We lost everything in an instant… We’re completely destroyed,” he added.

Fearing to return home, survivors took refuge in the Turkish Gaziantep airport.

“Our life now is marked by uncertainty,” said Zahid Sotko, who fled his apartment with his two young children… “How will I take care of these children?”

For its part, the World Health Organization said that 23 million people “may have been affected by the earthquake, including about five million people in a fragile situation”.

The first foreign teams of rescue workers arrived Tuesday.

The Turkish president, who declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 provinces affected by the quake, said 45 countries had offered their help.

The European Union announced the mobilization of 1,185 rescuers and 79 search dogs for Türkiye from 19 of its member states, including France, Germany and Greece.

In Syria, the EU is in contact with its humanitarian partners on the ground and funds relief operations.

The US President Joe Biden promised his Turkish counterpart to provide “all necessary assistance, whatever it may be as 2 rescue teams will arrive in Turkey on Wednesday morning”.

On Tuesday, China announced the dispatch of 5.9 million dollars’ worth of aid, specialized urban rescue workers, medical teams and emergency equipment.

Even Ukraine announced that, despite the Russian invasion, it would send 87 rescue workers to Türkiye.

The United Arab Emirates pledged $100 million in aid, while Saudi Arabia, which has had no ties to the Damascus since 2012, announced an air bridge to help the affected populations in both countries.

But in Syria, Russia has responded to an appeal made by the authorities in Damascus.

The military said more than 300 Russian soldiers are already at the site to help with relief.

The United States confirmed Tuesday that it is working with local NGOs in Syria to help earthquake victims.

“In Syria itself, we have humanitarian partners that are funded by the United States and provide life-saving assistance,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

He added, we’re determined to provide this assistance in order to help the Syrian people overcome this ordeal, stressing that this money will go, of course, to the Syrian people and not to the government in Damascus.

The earthquake struck Bab al Hawa, the only crossing point for all humanitarian aid to opposition areas in Syria sent from Türkiye, according to the United Nations.

The Syrian Red Crescent, which operates in government areas, called on the European Union to lift the sanctions imposed on Damascus.

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