HomeTechnologyFrantic search in Turkey and Syria after earthquake kills 4,600

Frantic search in Turkey and Syria after earthquake kills 4,600

ADANA, Turkey (AP) — Rescue teams raced Tuesday to rescue survivors from the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks that rattled eastern Turkey and neighboring Syria with the discovery of more bodies raising the body count to 4,600.

Countries around the world sent teams to help with the rescue efforts, but a day after the quake struck, the number of emergency teams on the ground was still small, their efforts hampered by freezing temperatures and near 200 aftershocks, making the search shaky. dangerous structures.

Nurgul Atay told The Associated Press that he could hear his mother’s voice under the rubble of a collapsed building in the city of Antakya, the capital of Hatay province, but that his efforts and those of others to reach the ruins had been useless without rescue teams and heavy equipment to help.

“If we could just lift the concrete slab, we could reach it,” he said. “My mother is 70 years old, she won’t be able to take this for long.”

In Hatay province, just southwest of the quake’s epicenter, authorities say as many as 1,500 buildings were destroyed and many people reported their relatives were trapped under rubble without help or rescue teams arriving.

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In areas where crews were working, occasional cheers erupted throughout the night as survivors were pulled from the rubble.

The quake, which was centered in Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, sent residents of Damascus and Beirut into the streets and was felt as far away as Cairo.

The medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders confirmed on Tuesday that one of its staff was among the dead after his home in Syria’s Idlib province collapsed, and that others had lost family members.

“We are very shocked and saddened by the impact of this disaster on the thousands of people affected by it, including our colleagues and their families,” said Sebastien Gay, the group’s head of mission in Syria.

Gay said health facilities in northern Syria were overwhelmed with medical personnel working “24 hours a day to respond to the large number of injuries.”

In Turkey’s Hatay province, thousands of people took refuge in sports centers or fairgrounds, while others spent the night in the open, huddled in blankets around campfires.

A navy ship docked at the provincial port of Iskenderun on Tuesday, where a hospital collapsed, to transport survivors who needed medical attention to the nearby city of Mersin. Thick black smoke rose from another area of ​​the port, where firefighters have yet to put out a fire that broke out among shipping containers that collapsed in the quake.

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

At least 3,381 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with more than 20,000 injured, according to the latest figures from Turkish authorities on Tuesday. The death toll in Syria’s government-controlled areas rose to 769 people, with some 1,450 injured, according to the Health Ministry. In the rebel-held northwest of the country, groups operating there said at least 450 people were killed and several hundred wounded. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared seven days of national mourning.

Authorities fear the death toll will continue to rise as rescuers search for survivors amid tangles of metal and concrete strewn across the region beset by civil war and the 12-year refugee crisis in Syria.

in the last international aid pledgesSouth Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he was preparing to quickly send a 60-person search and rescue team as well as medical supplies. Pakistan’s government sent a flight with relief supplies and a 50-member search-and-rescue team early Tuesday, saying there will be daily aid flights to Syria and Turkey starting Wednesday. India said it would send two search and rescue teams, including specially trained dogs and medical personnel.

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

The earthquake piled more misery on a region that has seen tremendous suffering in the last decade. On the Syrian side, the affected area is divided between government-controlled territory and the last opposition-controlled enclave of the country, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey is home to millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

In the rebel-held enclave, hundreds of families were trapped in the rubble, the opposition emergency organization known as the White Helmets said in a statement. The area is teeming with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the war. Many live in buildings that have already been damaged by military bombing.

Overburdened medical centers quickly filled with the injured, rescuers said. Some facilities had to be emptied, including a maternity hospital, according to the SAMS medical organization.

More than 7,800 people were rescued in 10 provinces, according to Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s disaster management authority.

The region sits on the main fault lines and it is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 people died in equally powerful earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.

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

The second jolt caused a multi-story apartment building in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa to collapse onto the street in a cloud of dust as bystanders screamed, according to video from the scene.

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

Alsayed reported from Azmarin, Syria, while Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Associated Press writers 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.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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