Desperate Last Hours for Survivors in Massive Turkey, Syria Earthquake

The search for survivors in the highly destructive earthquake that recently struck Turkey and Syria entered its “desperate final hours.”

Rescue workers from around the world have kept performing miraculous savings, as a woman was pulled from the rubble alive on the ninth day since the disaster.

Mind-boggling Devastation

Official government data on Tuesday put the earthquake’s death toll at 37,788. At least 90,000 have been injured in the tremor that shook Southeast Turkey and Northwest Syria on February 6.

The 7.8-magnitude quake was followed by a 7.5-magnitude aftershock, which boosted the damage to low-quality construction. Video footage from Gaziantep and its wider region has shown apartment buildings crumbling like houses of cards, due to the tremors.

At least 6,589 buildings have collapsed, leading the Turkish authorities to launch a crackdown on the developers responsible for the faulty construction.

The same problem was observed in 1999 in the massive earthquake that hit Izmit on the other side of the country; back then, the tremor claimed 18,000 lives.

Across the border in Syria, the Gaziantep earthquake affected the region of Aleppo and Idlib, some of the places worst affected by the 12-year-long Syrian Civil War.

The consequences of the still ongoing war, food insecurity, lack of drinking water, terrible sanitation, and public health situation, including a cholera outbreak, have now been exacerbated severely in Northwest Syria by the earthquake.

Nearly 32,000 tremor deaths are registered in Turkey; although the death toll in Syria could be much higher. Both the rebel-held and government-held zones have been slower in updating their rescue figures.

At least 1.3 million on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border are deemed “displaced,” meaning they remain homeless. The entire area affected by the massive earthquake has a population of 24 million.

Miracle Rescue After Nine Days

As local and international rescuers were frantically scrambling to find survivors, a woman was extracted alive on Tuesday 205 hours after the first earthquake, Al Jazeera reported, citing CNN Turk.

The woman was saved by a rescue team from Ukraine, the war-torn nation fighting off Russian aggression, which nonetheless managed to send rescue workers to Turkey.

The woman was rescued in Turkey’s southernmost Hatay province, which has a population of 1.6 million. In another miracle saving on Monday night, a 13-year-old boy named Kaan was also found alive in the same province, AP reported.

Earlier on Monday, in Gaziantep, a woman was discovered alive beneath the rubble of a five-story building.

Experts warned on Tuesday that the window for rescue nearly shut, due to the time since the tremor, the massive building collapses, and the fact that temperatures dropped to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius).

Turkey’s Enterprise and Business Confederation estimated the material damage from the tremor in the country at $84.1 billion, much higher compared with any official estimates.

The damage has been so massive that even the village of Polat, which is 62 miles (100 kilometers) away from the tremor’s epicenter, is left with almost no houses standing.

This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.