Illustrative photo – Rescue workers search through the rubble of buildings destroyed by an earthquake in the Turkish city of Hatay, February 11, 2023.
Ankara – A week after the devastating earthquake that claimed more than 36,000 lives in southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, rescuers today managed to pull more people alive from the rubble. However, according to experts, the hope of finding survivors is very small, even in view of the freezing temperatures, which drop to minus six degrees Celsius at night. A number of people who were left homeless by last Monday's 7.8-magnitude tremors are still on the streets without shelter, the AP reported.
Photo gallery: Earthquake in Turkey and Syria
Even today, rescuers managed to rescue several people alive from the wreckage in the south of Turkey. A 40-year-old woman was rescued after 170 hours from the rubble of a five-story building in the city of Islahiye in Gaziantep province. A few hours later, a six-year-old girl was rescued from the rubble in the city of Adiyaman, Anadolu Agency reported. According to her, rescuers also found a 35-year-old man alive today in Adiyaman province and a 70-year-old woman in Hatay province. Several survivors were also found in the wreckage over the weekend, including a 60-year-old woman in the city of Besni in Adiyaman province, and a seven-month-old child and a 12-year-old girl in Hatay province.
This afternoon, 182 hours after the earthquake, rescuers managed to pull a 12-year-old boy alive from the ruins of a house in Hatay province. He was transported to the hospital. According to Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, in the past few days, roughly 600 unaccompanied children have been rescued from the rubble of buildings. Around 80 minors have returned to their families, writes Hürriyet daily.
Today after 17:00 CET, the Turkish media reported on the rescue of a ten-year-old girl in Kahramanmaraş province. In the province of Hatay, after more than 180 hours, a man and two siblings were pulled out of the wreckage, reports Anadolu Agency.
According to experts quoted by the AP agency, the hope of finding survivors is getting smaller. Eduardo Reinoso of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) believes that after nine days it will be almost zero. David Alexander from University College London (UCL) has the same opinion. According to him, the collapsed buildings in the area were so poorly constructed that they crumbled into very small pieces, reducing the likelihood of creating air pockets for possible survival. Turkish authorities are already investigating over 130 people for violating building standards.
Freezing temperatures are also reducing the hope of survival in the ruins of southern Turkey. “The body's typical response to hypothermia is shivering, and this requires calories. But if a person does not have food for several days and is exposed to low temperatures, he succumbs to hypothermia faster,” said Stephanie Lareau from the University of Virginia, USA.
Syrian authorities and non-governmental organizations so far report fewer dead than Turkey, about 4,500. In Syria, however, the search for survivors and victims is more complicated, as the earthquake also affected an area controlled by the rebels. UN Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths, who visited the Turkey-Syria border at the weekend, said the international community had failed to help people in northwest Syria. “The people in northwestern Syria rightly feel abandoned,” Griffiths was quoted as saying by the AP agency.
A reporter for Al Jazeera TV reported today that a new convoy of six trucks with UN aid had arrived in Syria. Earlier, according to Qatar TV, the borders 52 trucks crossed with UN aid. The Al Jazeera reporter also said that Syrians complain that the aid of the international community is insufficient.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu said today that Turkey is willing to open two more border crossings crossing points for transporting humanitarian aid to Syria. “But we do not allow another influx of refugees from Syria,” the minister said, adding that the Turkish authorities will not allow such cross-border movement. According to Çavuşoglu, currently only one crossing point is used for transporting humanitarian aid to the neighboring country. The head of Turkish diplomacy refused to open crossings to areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.