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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Turkiye, Syria earthquake toll hits 12,000

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ISTANBUL (Agencies): Following criticism of his administration’s handling of the huge earthquake that took more than 12,000 lives in Turkey and Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted “shortcomings” on Wednesday.


The disaster’s massive scope, which resulted in the destruction of thousands of structures and the entrapment of an unknown number of people, has overwhelmed relief efforts that were already impeded by the bitter cold.

The survivors were left to search for food and shelter while, in some cases, watching helplessly as their loved ones cried out for aid before going silent under the rubble. The ruins are where my nephew, sister-in-law, and sister-in-sister law’s are.


There is no sign of life, and they are stuck beneath the rubble, according to Semire Coban, a kindergarten instructor in Turkiye’s Hatay. “They are out of our reach. They are not responding to our attempts to communicate with them. We are awaiting assistance. It’s been 48 hours already,” she remarked.

According to AFP journalists and the site monitoring service NetBlocks, Twitter was also not functioning on Turkish mobile networks. As the search effort gets closer to the 72-hour mark, which catastrophe experts regard to be the most likely time to save lives, the window for rescuers to find survivors is getting smaller.

However, on Wednesday, rescuers in the severely damaged Turkish province of Hatay, where entire villages have been levelled, managed to dig youngsters out from under a collapsed structure. Alperen Cetinkaya, a rescuer, recalled, “All of a sudden we heard voices and thanks to the excavator… immediately we heard the voices of three persons at the same time.”

“We anticipate seeing more of them… There is a very good probability of getting folks out of here alive, he continued. The official death toll from Monday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake was 9,057 in Turkiye and 2,662 in Syria, bringing the total to 11,719; however, if the worst predictions of experts come true, that number might more than quadruple.

Time was running out for the thousands of injured people and others who are still believed to be trapped, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization. Due to the extent of the destruction and the dearth of assistance arriving,

In some locations, survivors claimed they felt alone in their response to the calamity.
Even the buildings that didn’t fall down sustained significant damage. In the town of Jindayris, which is controlled by rebels, a resident by the name of Hassan claimed that more people were now living beneath the rubble than on top of it.


“Only 10 individuals are attempting to rescue the 400–500 trapped victims from under each collapsed structure. Additionally, there is no machinery, he said. In their “race against time,” the White Helmets, who are in charge of rescuing those trapped beneath rubble in Syria’s rebel-held areas, have requested assistance from abroad.

Since the earthquake, they have been working to extricate survivors from under the rubble of hundreds of destroyed buildings in war-torn regions of northwest Syria that are still out of government control.

Mohammed Shibli, a spokesman for the organisation formally known as the Syria Civil Defence, declared that “international rescue teams must enter our territory.” From nearby Turkiye, he told AFP, “People are dying every second; we are in a fight against time.”

The difficult subject of aid for Syria was raised by the sanctioned Damascus government, which made a formal appeal to the EU for assistance, according to Janez Lenarcic, the EU’s commissioner for crisis management.

After ten years of civil war and aerial bombardment by Syria and Russia, the economy had already collapsed, hospitals had been damaged, and there were shortages of fuel, water, and power.


Lenarcic added that the European Commission is “encouraging” EU members to supply Syria with the food and medical supplies it needs, while also keeping an eye out to make sure that any aid is not “diverted” by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States, China, and the Gulf States are among the dozens of countries that have committed their support, and rescue teams and relief supplies have already arrived.

Winter storms have made several roads, some of which were already damaged by the earthquake, nearly impassable, adding to the agony and causing kilometre-long traffic jams in some areas.

Following the significant earthquake that occurred in Turkey on Monday near the Syrian border, the European Union moved quickly to send rescue crews to the region.

However, due to EU sanctions imposed on Assad’s administration since 2011 over its ruthless crackdown on protestors that descended into a civil war, it first only provided Syria with the barest amount of aid through already-existing humanitarian programmes.

One of the seismically active regions on the planet is at the Turkish-Syrian border. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck Turkiye on Monday was the largest since 33,000 people perished in the eastern region of Erzincan in 1939. More than 17,000 people perished in a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in 1999.

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