Hope fades in cold Turkey, Syria – KGET 17

GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AP) — The search for survivors of an earthquake that toppled thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria reached a critical stage Wednesday, with rescue teams from two dozen countries helping local residents cut through the rubble and experts warning that finding a realistic window was which closed quickly in cold temperatures.

The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday approached 12,000, making it the deadliest since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan in March 2011 that triggered a tsunami that killed nearly 20,000. Almost all of Turkey is very seismically active, so the country is no stranger to devastating earthquakes – a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck near Istanbul in 1999 killed around 18,000 people.

With the damage from Monday’s quake so extensive and so widespread, experts said the window for survival was closing quickly, although people could survive for up to a week or more, depending on circumstances.

The scale of the destruction was breathtaking, with rows of apartment blocks reduced to mangled metal, rubble and dust in many communities. Rescuers formed human chains as they tried to dig through the collapsed buildings, occasionally calling for silence in the hope of hearing muffled pleas for help.


The overwhelming sadness gave way to moments of subdued joy. In the northwestern Syrian town of Jinderis, where 12 years of conflict have complicated rescue efforts, residents digging through a collapsed building on Monday afternoon discovered a crying baby whose mother appeared to have given birth while buried in the rubble. The girl’s mother, father and four siblings did not survive. That evening, rescuers pulled another girl from the wreckage of a collapsed building in the same city.

Former Chelsea and Newcastle striker Christian Atsu has been rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, home to his current team Hatayspor, the Ghana Football Association announced on Tuesday.

In the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, Mufit Hisir told The Associated Press that rescuers pulled his mother and brother alive from the rubble after several hours of digging.


Many whose homes were damaged or destroyed expressed frustration with the Turkish government’s response as they were forced to sleep in cars, shelters or outside in sub-freezing temperatures.

“We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a heating stove, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape. We are all wet in the rain and our children are out in the cold,” Aysan Kurt, 27, told the AP. “We didn’t die of hunger or earthquakes, but we will die freezing to death. It shouldn’t be like this. No one is sending help.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the particularly hard-hit Hatay province, where more than 3,300 people died and entire settlements were destroyed. Residents there accuse the government of being slow to send aid.

Erdogan, who faces a tough re-election fight in May, acknowledged “shortcomings” in the response but said the weather was a factor. The earthquake destroyed the runway at Hatay Airport, which further disrupted the response.

He also hit back at critics, saying “dishonest people” were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s response.

Turkish authorities said they were targeting disinformation, and an internet watchdog group said access to Twitter was restricted despite survivors using it to alert rescuers.


Crews from at least 24 countries are participating in the rescue operation, including those at war over the war in Ukraine.

Among the countries helping is Turkey’s neighbor and historic rival Greece, which is sending a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle to Turkey, along with a civil engineer, five doctors and a seismic planning expert in a military transport plane.

And aid groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, are sending aid, including medical equipment, food, blankets, mattresses and other essentials.

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