Rescuers rush to Turkey and Syria after quake that kills 4,000
ADANA, Turkey (AP) – Rescuers in war-ravaged Turkey and Syria searched the freezing night Tuesday, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. killed over 4,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide area.
Authorities feared the death toll from Monday’s pre-dawn quake and aftershocks would continue to rise as rescuers searched for survivors among the tangles of metal and concrete spread across the war-torn region. 12-year civilian life in Syria and the refugee crisis.
Survivors screamed for help amid mountains of debris as first responders faced rain and snow. Seismic activity continued to shake the area, including another tremor nearly as powerful as the initial quake. Workers carefully removed concrete slabs and grabbed bodies as desperate families awaited news of loved ones.
“My grandson is 1 and a half years old. Please help them, please. … They were on the 12th floor,” Imran Bahur cried outside his destroyed building in the Turkish city of Adana on Monday.
Tens of thousands of homeless people in Turkey and Syria had to spend a night in the cold. In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, a provincial capital about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the epicentre, people have taken refuge in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning.
US President Joe Biden called Erdogan to express his condolences and offer help to the NATO ally. The White House said it was sending search and rescue teams to support Turkey’s efforts.
The earthquake, which was centered in Kahramanmaras province in southeastern Turkey, sent residents of Damascus and Beirut rushing to the streets and was felt as far away as Cairo.
This has deepened misery in a region that has experienced enormous suffering over the past decade. On the Syrian side, the area is divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last opposition-controlled enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of civil war refugees.
In the rebel-held enclave, hundreds of families remained trapped in the rubble, the opposition emergency organization known as the White Helmets said in a statement. The region is teeming with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the war. Many live in buildings already destroyed by military bombardments.
Overcrowded medical centers quickly filled with injured people, emergency workers said. Some facilities had to be emptied, including a maternity ward, according to the medical organization SAMS.
More than 7,800 people have been rescued in 10 provinces, according to Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s disaster management authority.
The region sits atop major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 people were killed in equally powerful earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.
The US Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles). Hours later, a magnitude 7.5 quake, likely triggered by the first, struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.
The second tremor tipped a multi-storey building in the Turkish town of Sanliurfa onto the street in a cloud of dust as passers-by screamed, according to video from the scene.
Thousands of buildings have collapsed in a wide area stretching from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Hama to Diyarbakir in Turkey, more than 330 kilometers (200 miles) to the northeast.
In Turkey alone, more than 5,600 buildings were destroyed, authorities said. Hospitals were damaged and one collapsed in the town of Iskenderun.
Extremely cold temperatures could reduce the time rescuers have to rescue trapped survivors, said Dr Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University. The difficulty of working in areas plagued by civil war would further complicate rescue efforts, he said.
Offers of aid – from search and rescue teams to medical supplies and money – have poured in from dozens of countries, as well as the European Union and NATO. The vast majority were for Turkey, with a Russian and even Israeli promise of aid to the Syrian government, but it was unclear whether some would go to the devastated rebel-held pocket in the northwest.
The opposition Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the enclave as “disastrous”.
The opposition-held area, centered on Idlib province, has been under siege for years, with frequent Russian and government airstrikes. The territory depends on an aid stream from Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 224 buildings in northwestern Syria had been destroyed and at least 325 damaged, including aid warehouses. The UN was assisting 2.7 million people every month via cross-border deliveries, which could now be interrupted.
At a hospital in Idlib, Osama Abdel Hamid said most of his neighbors died when their communal four-storey building collapsed. As he fled with his wife and three children, a wooden door fell on them, protecting them from falling debris.
“God gave me a new breath of life,” he said.
In the small town of Azmarin held by Syrian rebels in the mountains near the Turkish border, the bodies of several dead children, wrapped in blankets, were taken to hospital.
In the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble, and one could be seen lying on a stretcher on the snowy ground. Turkish TV channel CNN Turk said a woman was found alive in Gaziantep after a rescue dog detected her.
In Adana, about 20 people, some wearing emergency life jackets, used power saws atop the concrete mountain of a collapsed building to open up space for survivors to exit or enter. be rescued.
“I don’t have the strength anymore,” a survivor heard screaming from under the rubble of another building in Adana as rescuers tried to reach him, said local resident Muhammet Fatih Yavuz.
In Diyarbakir, hundreds of rescue workers and civilians formed lines through a huge mound of wreckage, passing shattered concrete pieces and personal belongings as they searched for trapped survivors.
At least 2,921 people have been killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with nearly 16,000 injured, according to Turkish authorities. The death toll in areas controlled by the Syrian government stood at 656 people, with some 1,400 injured, according to the health ministry. In the rebel-held northwest of the country, groups operating there said at least 450 people were dead and several hundred injured.
Huseyin Yayman, a lawmaker in Turkey’s Hatay province, said several of his family members were trapped under the rubble of their collapsed homes.
“There are so many other people who are also trapped,” he told HaberTurk TV by phone. “There are so many buildings that have been damaged. People are in the street. It’s raining, it’s winter.
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