Turkey, Syria earthquake: Death toll at 5,000, many injured

ADANA, Türkiye — Rescuers raced on Tuesday to find survivors among the rubble of thousands of buildings from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake and multiple aftershocks that hit eastern Turkey Ky and neighboring Syria, with the discovery of more bodies, brought the death toll to more than 5,000.

Countries around the world have sent teams to support the rescue effort, and Turkey’s disaster management agency says more than 24,400 emergency workers are now at the scene. But with such a large swath of territory hit by Monday’s earthquake and nearly 6,000 buildings confirmed to have collapsed in Turkey alone, their efforts have been scattered.

Efforts to reach survivors were also hampered by sub-freezing temperatures and nearly 200 aftershocks, making searching through unstable structures dangerous.

Nurgul Atay told the AP news agency she could hear her mother’s voice beneath the rubble of a collapsed building in Antakya city, the capital of Hatay province, but the efforts of her and others’ to get into the wreckage was futile without any rescue team. Heavy equipment to help.

“If only we could lift the concrete slab we could reach her,” she said. “My mother is 70 years old, she can’t stand it for long.”

Across Hatay province, just southwest of the quake’s epicenter, officials said as many as 1,500 buildings were destroyed and many said their loved ones were trapped under the rubble with no help. help or rescue team arrives.

In areas where teams worked, occasional cheers rang out throughout the night as survivors were pulled from the rubble.

The epicenter of the quake was in Kahramanmaras province in southeastern Turkey, sending people in Damascus and Beirut into the streets and being felt as far away as Cairo.

Sebastien Gay, the head of the Syria mission of Doctors Without Borders, said medical facilities in northern Syria were overwhelmed with medical staff working “round the clock to deal with the number of deaths.” a large number of people were injured”.

In Turkey’s Hatay province, thousands of people took shelter in sports centers or halls, while others spent the night outside, curled up in blankets around bonfires.

Turkey has a large number of troops in the border area with Syria and has tasked the army with assisting with rescue efforts, including setting up tents for the homeless and a field hospital in Hatay province. . Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said an Ankara-based humanitarian aid brigade and eight military search and rescue teams had also been deployed.

A navy ship docked Tuesday at the provincial port of Iskenderun, where a hospital collapsed, to transport survivors in need of medical care to the nearby city of Mersin. Thick black smoke rose from another area of ​​the port, where firefighters were still unable to extinguish a fire that broke out between shipping containers toppled by the earthquake.

In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, a provincial capital about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the epicenter, people took shelter in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centres.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the total death toll in Turkey had risen to 3,419, with another 20,534 injured.

The death toll in government-controlled areas of Syria has risen to 812, with about 1,450 injured, the Health Ministry said. In the rebel-held northwest of the country, the opposition Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, the group of medical workers leading rescue operations, said at least 790 people were killed and more than 2,200 injured.

That brings the total to 5,021.

Authorities fear the death toll will continue to rise as rescuers search for survivors amid piles of metal and concrete spread across an area besieged by a 12-year civil war and crisis. refugee crisis in Syria.

In his latest pledge of international support, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he was preparing to quickly dispatch a search and rescue team of 60 people as well as medical supplies and 50 soldiers. The Pakistani government sent a flight of relief supplies and a 50-member search and rescue team early Tuesday morning, and said there would be daily aid flights to Syria and Turkey from Monday. Private. India said it would send two search and rescue teams, including sniffer dogs and specially trained medical personnel.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to Ankara on Wednesday to express condolences and solidarity, according to a statement from Islamabad.

US President Joe Biden called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express his condolences and offer to support the NATO ally. The White House said it was sending search and rescue teams to support Turkey’s efforts.

The earthquake added misery to an area that has seen terrible suffering over the past decade. On the Syrian side, the affected area is divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last remaining opposition-held enclave, surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey is home to millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

In a statement, the opposition emergency organization White Helmets said that in the rebel-held area, hundreds of families were still trapped in the rubble. The region has about 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country due to the war. Many people live in buildings that have been damaged by military bombardment.

Stressed medical centers quickly filled with injured people, rescuers said. According to the SAMS health organization, several facilities had to be cleared, including a maternity hospital.

According to Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s disaster management agency, more than 7,800 people have been rescued across 10 provinces.

The area is located on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. About 18,000 people were killed in similar strong earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.

The United States Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles). Hours later, another quake, possibly caused by the first, struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away with a magnitude of 7.5.

The second impact sent a multi-storey apartment building in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa to the ground in a cloud of dust as passersby screamed, according to video footage of the scene.

Thousands of buildings are reported to have collapsed in a wide area stretching from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers (200 miles) northeast.

Alsayed reports from Azmarin, Syria, while Fraser reports from Ankara, Turkey. Associated Press writers David Rising in Bangkok, Zeynep Bilginsoy and Robert Badendieck in Istanbul, Bassem Mroue and Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut, Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Riazat Butt in Islamabad, contributed to this report.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/quake-deaths-pass-5000-as-turkey-syria-seek-survivors/507-ff29d4aa-7074-4619-8f54-a4658890f9cb Turkey, Syria earthquake: Death toll at 5,000, many injured

Edmund DeMarche

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