Türkiye-Syria earthquake: The death toll is rising insanely
Rescuers in Türkiye pulled several children alive from the rubble of collapsed buildings on Monday, a week after the worst earthquake in the country’s modern history, but hopes of finding more survivors faded and criticism of the authorities grew.
In one city, rescuers are digging a path to reach a grandmother, a mother and a child from the same family who appear to be still alive after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on February 6th and aftershock killed more than 37,000 people in Türkiye and Syria.
But other rescuers are preparing for the inevitable curtailment of operations as the cold cuts the already slim chances of survival, with some Polish rescuers announcing they will leave on Wednesday.
In a glimmer of hope, a 13-year-old boy was rescued after spending 182 hours under the rubble of a building in the southern Turkish Hatay province on Monday.
Officials said a little girl named Miray was rescued in the southeastern Turkish city of Adiyaman, and a 10-year-old girl had been rescued in Kahramanmaras province.
At least two other children and three adults were reported to have been rescued.
In one of the dramatic rescue attempts in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, rescuers said they are communicating with a grandmother, mother and child trapped in a room among the rubble of a three-storey building.
Rescue workers are digging another corridor to reach them after the first corridor was blocked in front of them.
The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said the death toll in Türkiye now exceeds the total of 31,643 people who died in the 1939 earthquake, making last Monday earthquake as the worst in Türkiye’s modern history.
The total death toll in Syria, ravaged by more than a decade of civil war, has now reached 5,714, including those in rebel-held enclaves and others in government-held areas.
The Turkish Business Federation said the earthquake left damage that could cost Ankara up to $84.1 billion.
The Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who faces an election in June that is expected to be the toughest in his two decades in power, acknowledged problems with the response at first but said the situation was now under control.
Dozens of exhausted residents and medics speaking to media expressing their helplessness over the lack of water, food, medicine, body bags and cranes in the disaster area, and many criticized the slow and overly centralized response by Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD).
The International Monetary Fund has called for an international effort to help Syria, as the rebel-held area in the northwest of the country has received little aid.
Only one crossing from Türkiye into Syria is now open for UN aid, although the United Nations says it hopes to open two more.
Aid from areas controlled by the Syrian government to those controlled by opposition forces has stopped.
Haya’t Tahrir al Sham organization, which controls much of the area didn’t allow shipments from government-held areas to enter and that aid would come from Türkiye.
Aid workers and civilians are increasingly disappointed in opposition-held areas of Syria.
The head of the Turkish-backed opposition coalition, Salem al Muslat, said that since the first days of the disaster, the coalition had asked the United Nations for immediate intervention, adding that he believed that the United Nations wanted to distance itself from the devastation that befell the opposition areas.