Rescuers in Turkey dig to save family a week after

Rescuers in Turkey dig to save family a week after earthquake –

  • Death toll 31,643 in Turkey, more than 4,300 in Syria
  • Hundreds of thousands homeless in the middle of winter
  • Rescue phase “coming to an end” – UN

ANTAKYA/ELBISTAN, Turkey, February 13 (Portal) – Rescuers in Turkey on Monday pulled several people alive from collapsed buildings and dug around a grandmother, mother and daughter of a single family, a week after the country’s worst earthquake in modern times to achieve history.

As hopes of finding many more survivors in the rubble quickly faded, the combined official death toll in Turkey and neighboring Syria from last Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake rose to almost 36,000 and appeared to be rising.

The rescue phase “is coming to an end” and an urgent shift must now be made to providing shelter, food, schooling and mental health care, United Nations relief chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday during a visit to Aleppo in northern Syria.

About 176 hours after the initial quake, a woman named Serap Donmez was pulled alive from a collapsed block of flats in Antakya by search and rescue teams from Turkey and Oman on Monday, state broadcaster TRT reported.

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Another woman was rescued a few hours earlier in southern Gaziantep province, CNN Turk reported. A 35-year-old man was rescued from the rubble of a building in the city of Adiyaman, officials said.

Rescue workers in Kahramanmaras said they have been in contact with a grandmother, mother and baby locked in one room of a three-story building, with a possible fourth person in another room. They said they tried to breach a wall to reach the survivors, but a column stopped them.

Members of a Spanish rescue team, the Turkish army and police search parties worked on the building, which remained mostly intact.

“We don’t know if they’re still alive. We only saw heat with the thermal imaging cameras, but they made no sound,” a Turkish army soldier told Portal.

The deadliest quake to hit Turkey since 1939 has killed 31,643 people there, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency said. As of Sunday, more than 4,300 people have been killed and 7,600 injured in north-western Syria, according to a UN agency.

The quake is now the sixth-deadliest natural disaster this century, following the 2005 quake that killed at least 73,000 people in Pakistan.


In Syria, the disaster hit the rebel-held north-west hardest, leaving many homeless once again, displaced several times by decades of civil war. The region has received little aid compared to government-held areas.

[1/29] A person keeps warm by a fire as the search continues for survivors after a deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 13, 2023. Portal/Suhaib Salem

“What’s most striking here, even in Aleppo, which has suffered so much over these many years, this moment, this moment…was pretty much the worst thing these people have experienced,” said the UN’s Griffiths.

The people of the region have “failed,” he said in a previous Twitter post.

At the Turkish-Syrian border, only one border crossing is currently open for UN aid supplies. Griffiths said the United Nations would get help moving from the government-held regions of Syria to the rebel-held northwest.

The United States called on the Syrian government and all other parties to immediately grant humanitarian access to all those in need.

Earthquake aid from government-held regions to areas controlled by hardline opposition groups has been held up by permitting issues with Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls much of the region, a UN spokesman said.

An HTS source in Idlib told Portal the group would not allow supplies from government-held areas and that aid was coming from Turkey to the north.

The United Nations has announced that it will be able to open two more border crossings.


Residents and aid workers from several Turkish cities have cited deteriorating security conditions with widespread reports of robbed businesses and collapsed houses.

In a central district of one of the worst-hit cities, Antakya in southern Turkey, shopkeepers emptied their shops on Sunday to prevent goods from being stolen by looters.

Amid concerns about hygiene and the spread of infection in the region, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said over the weekend that rabies and tetanus vaccine had been sent to the earthquake zone and that mobile pharmacies had started operating there.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has announced the government will deal decisively with looters as he faces questions about his response to the earthquake ahead of an election scheduled for June that is expected to be the toughest of his two decades in power.

Turkey said Sunday about 80,000 people were in hospital and more than 1 million were in shelters.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Antakya and Henriette Chacar in Elbistan; Additional reporting by Umit Bektas in Antakya, Maya Gebeily in Adana, Daren Butler and Yesim Dikmen in Istanbul, Ece Toksabay in Ankara, Timour Azhari in Beirut, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; writing by Stephen Coates and Michael Georgy; Edited by Jane Merriman, Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel and Conor Humphries

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