The death toll soared above 6,200 and was still expected to rise
NURDAGI, Turkey (AP) — Search teams and aid poured into Turkey and Syria on Tuesday as rescuers working in freezing temperatures and sometimes using their bare hands dug through the remains of buildings flattened by a powerful earthquake. The death toll soared above 6,200 and was still expected to rise.
May Allah Protect Our Brothers and Sisters.
Prayers For Turkiye ,Syria And All Other Countries Affected By Earthquake. 💔
Powerful 7.8#TurkeyEarthquake #PrayersForTurkey pic.twitter.com/C7YfhI6Lk2
— Jameel Naich (@Naich_Jameel) February 6, 2023
But with the damage spread over a wide area, the massive relief operation often struggled to reach devastated towns, and voices that had been crying out from the rubble fell silent.
“We could hear their voices, they were calling for help,” said Ali Silo, whose two relatives could not be saved in the Turkish town of Nurdagi.
In the end, it was left to Silo, a Syrian who arrived a decade ago, and other residents to recover the bodies and those of two other victims.
Monday’s magnitude 7.8 quake and a cascade of strong aftershocks cut a swath of destruction that stretched hundreds of kilometers (miles) across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria. The shaking toppled thousands of buildings and heaped more misery on a region shaped by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis. One temblor that followed the first registered at magnitude 7.5, powerful in its own right.
Unstable piles of metal and concrete made the search efforts perilous, while freezing temperatures made them ever more urgent, as worries grew about how long trapped survivors could last in the cold. Snow swirled around rescuers in Turkey’s Malatya province, according to footage circulated by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The scale of the suffering — and the accompanying rescue effort — were staggering.
More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey alone, and some 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay. They huddled in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centers, while others spent the night outside in blankets gathering around fires.
Many took to social media to plead for assistance for loved ones believed to be trapped under the rubble. Anadolu quoted Interior Ministry officials as saying all calls were being “collected meticulously” and the information relayed to search teams.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 13 million of the country’s 85 million people were affected, and he declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces.
For the entire quake-hit area, that number could be as high as 23 million people, according to Adelheid Marschang, a senior emergencies officer with the World Health Organization.
“This is a crisis on top of multiple crises in the affected region,” Marschang said in Geneva.
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