Earthquake to remember: Hope fades in freezing cold of Turkey and Syria
The search for survivors of the earthquake that toppled thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria reached a critical point on Wednesday, with rescue teams from two dozen countries helping residents sift through the rubble and experts warning that the realistic window to find some in sub-freezing temperatures was rapidly closing.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck on Monday killed nearly 12,000 people, making it the deadliest since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan in March 2011 triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people. Almost all of Turkey is very seismically active, so the country is no stranger to devastating earthquakes – a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck near Istanbul in 1999 killed around 18 000 people.
With the damage from Monday’s earthquake so extensive and widespread, experts said the window of survival was closing quickly, even with so many people involved in the rescue efforts.
The scale of the devastation was breathtaking, with rows of buildings reduced to twisted metal, rubble and dust in many communities. Rescuers formed human chains as they tried to dig through collapsed buildings, urging silence from time to time in the hope of hearing muffled cries for help.
SNAPSHOT OF HOPE
Overwhelming sadness gave way to moments of muted joy. In the town of Jinderis in northwestern Syria, where 12 years of conflict has complicated rescue efforts, residents digging into a collapsed building on Monday afternoon discovered a crying baby whose mother appears to be the having given birth while she was buried in the rubble. The girl’s mother, father and four siblings did not survive. Rescuers pulled another baby girl from the wreckage of a collapsed building in the same town that evening.
Former Chelsea and Newcastle striker Christian Atsu has been rescued from the ruins of a collapsed building in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, where his current side Hatayspor are based, the city tweeted on Tuesday. Ghana Football Federation.
In the southern Turkish town of Kahramanmaras, Mufit Hisir told The Associated Press that rescuers pulled his mother and brother alive from the rubble after digging for hours.
Many whose homes have been damaged or destroyed have expressed frustration with the Turkish government’s response, having to sleep in cars, shelters or outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.
“We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a stove, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape. We are all wet in the rain and our children are out in the cold,” Aysan Kurt, 27, told the AP. “We did not die of hunger or of the earthquake, but we will die of cold. It shouldn’t be like that. Nobody sends help.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the particularly affected province of Hatay, where more than 3,300 people died and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Residents have accused the government of being slow to send aid.
Erdogan, who faces an uphill battle for re-election in May, acknowledged “gaps” in the response but said the weather had been a factor. The earthquake destroyed the runway at Hatay Airport, further disrupting the response.
He also hit back at criticism, saying “dishonorable people” were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s response.
Turkish authorities said they were targeting misinformation and an internet monitoring group said access to Twitter was restricted despite being used by survivors to alert rescuers.
Crews from at least 24 countries, including those at odds over the war in Ukraine, are taking part in the rescue operation.
Among the aiding countries is Greece, Turkey’s neighbor and historical rival, which is sending a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle, as well as a structural engineer, five doctors and experts to Turkey. in seismic planning in a military transport aircraft.
And aid groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, are sending aid, including medical equipment, food, blankets, mattresses and other essentials.