Rescue efforts continue in Turkey and Syria as earthquake survivors are finally pulled from the rubble
In the days since the magnitude of 7.8 Earthquake hits Syria and TurkeyThe death toll, now more than 22,000, is growing and stories of survival are becoming few and far between.
A lucky few were still pulled alive from the rubble: two teenage sisters were rescued from the rubble in the city of Kahramanmaraş 101 hours after the massive earthquake hit Turkey.
Ayfer, 15, was rescued at the 99th hour after the earthquake, when rescuers reassured her by turning on music and promising her ice cream. Her younger sister, Fatma, 13, was rescued two hours later during a 10-hour rescue operation after seismic sensors detected signs of life under the debris.
And on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, five days – about 102 hours – after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck, rescuers managed to bring a family of six, including two parents and their four children, out of the collapsed house on the first floor. the city of Iskenderun
But more than four days have passed, and as temperatures plummet in both countries, hopes of finding loved ones are fading, and the reality of grief and shock is hitting thousands of people across the country. two countries.
Although they may be considered the “lucky ones,” the grim reality lays out for those who are still alive.
Survivors may face “a secondary disaster” The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday that affected areas in both countries are facing colder-than-normal temperatures as frost and snow lead to “worst conditions”. and more terrible”. For example, the Syrian city of Aleppo is forecast to experience lows of -3°C to -2°C (27°F to 28°F) through the end of this week, while February lows are usually 2.5°C (36°F).
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, WHO incident response director Robert Holden warned there were “a lot of people” who survived “out in the open, in terrible and terrible conditions”.
“We’ve had severe disruptions to basic water supplies, fuel supplies, electricity supplies, communications supplies, the basics of life disrupted,” Holden said. .
“We really run the risk of witnessing a secondary disaster that could harm more people than the original one if we don’t move with the same speed and intensity as we are doing on the front. search and rescue,” Holden added.
In Syria, the devastation of the earthquake is adding to the misery of the current humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war that has dragged on for more than a decade.
The delivery of emergency supplies to the earthquake-stricken northern parts of the country has been complicated by the protracted civil war between opposition forces and the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad. First, who was accused of killing his own people.
Many Western countries have refused to send aid directly to the Syrian regime, which is under US and EU sanctions, and Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said that any aid they receive must go through Damascus, making rebel-held areas dependent on aid groups including the United Nations.
Millions of people living in northwestern Syria, largely controlled by anti-government rebels, were affected by extreme poverty and cholera outbreaks when the earthquake struck. Now they must fend for themselves, with the first UN aid convoy from Turkey to northwestern Syria arriving on Thursday, days after the initial earthquake, followed by a second. Monday, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Previously, aid had been brought into northwest Syria via Turkey from the Bab al-Hawa border gate – the only one authorized by the UN Security Council. A resolution proposing to widen the border between Turkey and Syria was vetoed by Russia and China.
The other route is through the “diagonal”, aid coming from Syrian government territory into the rebel-held northwest.
The World Food Program (WFP) is calling for greater access to affected Syrian territories to replenish depleted aid supplies, with the organization’s chief executive calling the situation in the northwest of the country is “disaster on top of disaster”.
The World Food Program executive director David Beasley told CNN: “The border crossings authorized by the Security Council have reopened, but road damage and slowed customs clearance are significantly hindering entry. move”.
“What we have in stock is rapidly depleting, especially ready-to-eat rations, and they need to be replenished quickly. To do this, we need access,” added Beasley.