The number of victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria exceeded 5 thousand: thousands more people remain under the rubble
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on February 7 declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces devastated by two earthquakes. More than 5100 people have died and a large number of buildings have been destroyed across a vast area of southern Turkey and neighboring Syria, reports to Reuters.
The day after the earthquake, rescuers who worked in harsh conditions struggled to pull people out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings. It was a race against time.
As the scale of the disaster became more apparent, it seemed that the death toll would rise significantly. One United Nations official said there were fears that thousands of children could die under the rubble.
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Thousands of buildings were destroyed, hospitals and schools were destroyed, and tens of thousands of people were injured or left homeless in several Turkish and Syrian cities by a magnitude 7,8 earthquake - the deadliest in Turkey since 1999 - and a second one hours later.
Severe winter weather hindered rescue efforts and the delivery of aid and made the situation of homeless people even more difficult. Some areas were left without heat and electricity.
Aid officials expressed particular concern about the situation in Syria, which is already suffering from a humanitarian crisis after almost 12 years of civil war.
In a speech on Tuesday, Erdogan declared 10 affected Turkish provinces a disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency in the region. This will allow the President and the Cabinet of Ministers to bypass Parliament to pass new laws and restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.
The government planned to open hotels in Antalya's tourist hub to the west to temporarily accommodate people affected by the earthquakes, Erdogan, who faces national elections in three months, said.
According to Erdogan, the death toll in Turkey has risen to 3549. The death toll was just over 1600, according to government and emergency services in rebel-held northwestern Syria.
Every minute, every hour
Turkish authorities say about 13,5 million people have been affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east and 300 km from Malatya in the north to Hatay in the south. Syrian authorities have reported deaths as far south as Hama, about 100 kilometers from the epicenter.
“We are now in a race against time,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “With every minute, with every hour, the chances of finding survivors alive decrease.”
Across the region, rescuers toiled through the night and into the early morning looking for survivors as people waited in desperation by a pile of rocks, clinging to the hope that friends and family might be found alive.
In the Turkish city of Antakya, the capital of the province of Hatay near the Syrian border, a woman's voice was heard from under a pile of rubble, calling for help. Reuters reporters saw the body of a small child.
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Crying in the rain, the resident, who called himself Deniz, wringed his hands in despair.
“They call for help, but no one comes,” he said. We are devastated, we are devastated. My God… They scream. They ask, "Save us," but we cannot save them. How are we going to save them? ".
Families slept in cars on the streets.
Ayla, standing by a pile of stones where the eight-story building once stood, said she had come to Hatay from Gaziantep on February 6 in search of her mother. Rescuers of the Istanbul fire service worked on the ruins.
“There are no survivors yet,” she said.
Turkey's Emergency and Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said the quake destroyed 5775 buildings and injured 20 people. On February 426, a major fire was still raging in Turkey's southern port of Iskenderun. Drone footage from Hatay shows dozens of destroyed apartment buildings, indicating the true death toll is likely much higher than the current one.
In Geneva, UNICEF spokesman James Elder said: "Earthquakes ... could have killed thousands of children."
Dozens of schools, hospitals and other medical and educational institutions were damaged or destroyed, he said. Among the most vulnerable victims, Elder said, were Syrian refugees in northwestern Syria and Turkey.
According to Abdallah al-Dahan, several families are being buried in the Syrian city of Hama on February 7.
"It's a terrible scene in every way," Dahan said. “I have never seen anything like it in my entire life, despite everything that has happened to us.”
Mosques opened their doors to families whose homes were damaged.
The death toll in Syrian government areas has risen to 812, according to state news agency SANA. More than 790 people have died in the rebel-held northwest, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue service known as the White Helmets. She is known for digging people out from under the rubble of government airstrikes.
“Our teams are making great efforts, but they are not able to respond to the disaster and the large number of destroyed buildings,” said the head of the group, Raed al-Saleh.
Time is running out to rescue hundreds of families trapped under rubble, he said, and urgent help from international teams is needed.
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The UN Humanitarian Representative in Syria said fuel shortages and harsh weather were creating hurdles.
“The infrastructure is damaged, the roads that we used for humanitarian work are damaged,” UN Resident Coordinator El Mostafa Benlamlih said from Damascus.
Poor internet connectivity and damaged roads between some of the hardest-hit Turkish cities, home to millions of people, have also hampered impact assessment and relief planning efforts.
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- strong earthquake occurred in central Turkey and northwestern Syria 6 February.
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