Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: Battle against time and cold for survivors under the rubble

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A race against time and cold continued through the night in Turkey and northern Syria to pull survivors from the wreckage of the earthquakes that caused enormous destruction in both countries early yesterday Mondayclaiming the lives of thousands of people.

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According to the latest official tally, released about twenty hours after the first of three strong earthquakes, which had a magnitude of 7.8 and were felt as far away as Lebanon, Cyprus and northern Iraq, more than 4,300 people lost, 2,921 in Turkey, according to the AFAD disaster agency, another 1,440-plus in Syria. These numbers are sure to continue to get heavier and heavier as the hours and days pass.

Search and rescue operations are carried out in the cold, rain or snow, sometimes with bare hands, to save any life possible: such as that of the seven-year-old child who was pulled alive from the rubble in Hatay (south), on the border with Syria , in front of the eyes of an AFP journalist, after 20 hours of terror, with his pajamas in the dust.

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The bad weather in Anatolia is complicating the tasks of rescue teams and making conditions even more difficult for the homeless, who are hunkering down in tents or around fires, wrapped in blankets.

International assistance

Later today, more rescue crews are expected to arrive from abroad, especially from France and Qatar. US President Joe Biden yesterday promised his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan “every necessary assistance”.

Yesterday, a group of 21 firefighters from the 1st Special Disaster Response Unit, with two specially trained dogs and a special vehicle, 5 doctors and rescuers from the National Emergency Center, as well as the president of the Organization left for Turkey from Elefsina airport on a C-130 aircraft Antiseismic Planning and Protection of Efthymios Lekkas. The Greek mission is expected to operate in a city near the Turkey-Syria border.

The French mission that is expected to arrive today will be deployed in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the initial earthquake, an inaccessible area, covered by snow, which suffered a heavy blow, as reported by Agence France-Presse and relayed by the Athens News Agency.

Two American echelons with 79 skilled rescuers were also preparing to go to Turkey yesterday, according to the White House.

Mr Erdogan said 45 countries had offered to send aid.

In contrast, in Syria, Damascus’ call for international help was heeded mainly by Russia, which promised to deploy search and rescue teams “in the coming hours”, while, according to the Russian staff, more than 300 Russian military personnel on the ground are already participating. in rescue operations.

The UN also hit back, but insisted that the aid it will provide is intended for “all Syrians throughout the territory”, part of which is outside Damascus’ control.

At least 700 dead have been counted in the areas controlled by the rebels, neighboring Turkey, in northwestern Syria.

Taking advantage of the chaos caused by the devastating earthquake, around 20 alleged fighters of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group escaped from the Razo military prison, which is controlled by a pro-Turkish rebel faction.

The death toll on both sides of the border has not stopped rising and is expected to continue, given the scale of the devastation and the fact that search and rescue operations are still ongoing.

In Turkey, the authorities are talking about five thousand buildings that collapsed.

The very cold temperatures expose people trapped in the debris to another danger, that of hypothermia.

The World Health Organization said it feared the death toll would be many times higher than initially reported.

The aftershock sequence continues: 185 aftershocks were recorded yesterday. They followed the initial 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck overnight at 04:17 (local time • 03:17 Greek time), and another extremely strong 7.5-magnitude one yesterday afternoon.

Local authorities announced that they opened gyms, colleges and even mosques to accommodate earthquake victims in their dormitories. But, due to the fear that there will be more strong earthquakes, many residents prefer to spend the nights outside, as in Sanliurfa.

Yesterday’s earthquake is the deadliest in Turkey since August 17, 1999, which left at least 17,000 dead, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

The Turkish head of state declared seven days of national mourning and announced that schools would remain closed this week.

Source: News Beast

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