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Rescuers Search for Survivors As Turkey-Syria Quake Death Tolls Tops 21,000

Turkey Syria earthquake

Muhammet Ruzgar, 5, is carried out by a rescuer from the site of a damaged building, following an earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, February 7, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Four days after a powerful earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing almost 22,000 people, rescuers combed the rubble in a frantic quest for survivors on Friday as the United States provided a $85 million aid package.

The first UN assistance shipments to Syrian rebel-held areas arrived on Thursday, but prospects of discovering survivors have decreased because the three-day mark, which experts consider to be a crucial moment to preserve lives, has passed.

According to the US Agency for International Development, the relief funds would be distributed to local partners “to deliver desperately needed aid for millions of people,” including food, housing, and emergency medical care.

In order to stop the spread of disease, it will also assist sanitation and safe drinking water, according to a statement from USAID.

Melda Adtas, 16, was discovered alive more than 80 hours after the catastrophe hit in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, despite bitter cold hampering search operations in both nations.

The grieving nation hailed an agonizingly rare bit of good news as her delighted father sobbed.

He said, “My dear, my dear!” as the rescuers dragged the teen from the debris and the onlookers cheered.

In a location where many had already experienced loss and displacement as a result of Syria’s civil war, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck early on Monday while residents were sleeping.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president of the World Health Organization, and Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, both announced trips to the afflicted areas.

Mirjana Spoljaric, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, visited Syria’s war-torn Aleppo.

Communities that were already struggling from years of violent conflict have been rendered helpless by the earthquake, Spoljaric tweeted.

The severe predicament of the people needs to be addressed as this awful event progresses.

Rebel Areas Receive Aid

The first delivery of relief since the earthquake entered rebel-held northwest Syria on Thursday as a truckload passed the Turkish border, a crossing officer at Bab al-Hawa told AFP.

The bridge is the only route for UN aid to civilians that does not pass via Syrian government forces’ restricted regions.

Hospitals had already been devastated, the economy had already collapsed, and there had been electricity, fuel, and water shortages due to a decade of civil conflict and aerial bombardment by Syria and Russia.

The Security Council was asked by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to approve the opening of new humanitarian supply crossing points between Turkey and Syria.

As part of a humanitarian operation approved by the UN Security Council nearly ten years ago, four million people who reside in the rebel-held areas have been forced to rely on the Bab al-Hawa border.

It is evident that we need a lot of support, but this is the time for unity, not for politicization or splintering, Guterres remarked.

Rescuers Search for Survivors As Turkey-Syria Quake Death Tolls Tops 21,000

Freezing Conditions

Early on Friday, the temperature in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is close to the epicenter of the earthquake, dropped to minus three degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thousands of families were forced to spend the night in automobiles and homemade tents despite the cold because they were either too afraid to go home or were forbidden to do so.

It was warmer to wander through the city’s streets than to sit in a tent, so parents carried their kids in blankets.

Schools, mosques, gyms, and several retail establishments now stay open late. However, because there aren’t enough beds, many people spend the night in their running cars.

Melek Halici wrapped her two-year-old daughter in a blanket and said, “I fear for anyone who is stuck under the rubble in this.” They were watching rescuers work through the night.

The Silence Hurts

Turkey hasn’t had an earthquake of this size since 33,000 people died in the eastern region of Erzincan in 1939.

The official toll from Monday’s tremor is now 21,719, with 18,342 deaths in Turkey and 3,377 in Syria reported by officials and medical personnel.

Experts anticipate a big increase in the number.

Concern over how the administration handled the crisis has grown.

In Adiyaman province, one of the hardest damaged places, Hakan Tanriverdi told AFP that “those who didn’t die from the earthquake were left to perish in the cold.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, acknowledged “shortcomings” in the way the administration handled the disaster during a visit to the region.

When a probable survivor was discovered, rescue personnel employing drones and heat-detecting monitors in the destroyed Turkish village of Nurdagi, near to the epicentre, issued a silent order.

“The silence is excruciating. Emre, a local, remarked as he waited next to one block on the major road entering the town, “We just don’t know what to anticipate.

Pledges Of Help

Numerous countries have offered assistance. The World Bank announced that it would provide Turkey with $1.78 billion in aid to support relief and reconstruction activities.

According to the bank, two ongoing projects in Turkey will provide $780 million in immediate aid, while other operations totaling $1 billion are being planned to help the impacted.

Fitch Ratings estimated that the earthquake’s economic cost could top $4 billion in addition to the high death toll.

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