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Pain and hope are still intertwined

Large earthquakes on February 6 – with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.6 – as of February 12 have claimed the lives of 24,617 people in Turkeywhile the estimated number on the Syrian side is more than 4,500, bringing the estimated death toll in both countries above 29,000.

Earlier, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths told Sky News that the death toll in the massive earthquakes in Turkey and Syria is likely to double or more than the normal level. Currently, that could be up to 50,000 people.

“I think it’s difficult to give an exact estimate because we need to excavate the wreckage, but I’m sure the death toll will double or more,” Griffiths said after arriving in the city of Kahramanmaras. in Turkey, the epicenter of the first earthquake. “We haven’t really started counting the dead,” he said.

Miracles still appear

Although the window of opportunity for survival for earthquake victims still trapped under the rubble is rapidly closing, as tens of thousands of rescuers continue their efforts to scour the flattened neighborhoods. In cold weather, miracles still appear.

“Is anyone there?” asked Menekse Tabak, 70, as she was pulled from the rubble in the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the 7.8 earthquake. degrees, according to a video on state broadcaster TRT Haber.

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Pain and hope are intertwined

Rescue teams rescue 7-year-old Haci Ahmet from the rubble of an 8-storey building in Adiyaman, Turkey, 152 hours after the earthquake. Photo: TRT World

A 7-month-old baby named Hamza was rescued in Hatay province more than 140 hours after the earthquake, while 13-year-old Esma Sultan was also rescued in Gaziantep, Turkish state media reported.

A man named Mustafa Sarıgul, 35, was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, 149 hours after the earthquake hit, according to Al Jazeera.

Turkey’s Health Minister, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, posted on Twitter a paragraph video clips short story about a little girl who he said was pulled from the rubble “at the 150th hour” in Hatay, Turkey.

On Twitter, he said: “The first medical intervention for our little girl, who was rescued from the rubble at 150 hours, was performed at our Hatay Field Hospital. As a pediatrician, we oversee the process. Our baby was sent to Adana by helicopter for treatment.”

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 2).

Turkey’s Health Minister, Dr Fahrettin Koca, posted on Twitter a short video clip of a little girl he said was pulled from the rubble at the 150th hour in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Twitter

Another rescue was also successfully carried out with Abdullah Elali, a Syrian living in Antakya. Elali was pulled from the rubble in Hatay, southern Turkey after 151 hours, The Guardian reported, but admitted it could not be verified.

Families are also racing against time to find their missing loved ones. Mr. Hassan Guntekin continued to raise hope that his wife, 3 children and mother-in-law might still be alive under the rubble in Antakya city, Hatay province.

“I need my three children to be rescued. Even if only one of my children survives, it will be my hope to keep living,” he told Al Jazeera. “Otherwise, there is no point in continuing to live. I don’t know what I will do. Who will call me dad during Eid?”

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 3).

Turkish and Romanian rescue teams worked for five hours to pull Mustafa Sarigul out of the rubble where the 35-year-old was trapped for 146 hours, in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Anadolu Agency

Greater danger

Since the earthquake struck, 61-year-old Serizan Agbas has been sleeping on a bench in the garden of a school in Iskenderun city, Hatay province. The apartment complex she once lived in is still standing after the disaster but is considered unsafe to live in. So she stayed outside and shared the fire and food with the rescuers.

“Our pain is immense,” Agbas told Al Jazeera. “I only have 15 lira ($0.8) in my pocket right now, I don’t even have a cigarette to smoke. Now I have nothing to lose so I am not afraid.”

The building where the textile shop she ran was completely destroyed while she was uninsured. Not knowing what else to do, she still went to the site of the destroyed building every day.

Al Jazeera was told 14 people had been rescued from the collapsed building, but it was likely more than 100 people were killed in it. In addition, the clean water system and wastewater treatment system have been shut down, and only half the city has electricity. People began to worry about a bigger danger: the spread of disease.

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 4).

Şerizan Ağbaş, 61, has a textile shop in this collapsed building, in Iskenderun, Hatay Province, Turkey. Photo: Al Jazeera

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 5).

Relief efforts in downtown Antakya, Hatay province, Turkey, February 12, 2023. Photo: Al Jazeera

Dr Evgenia Zelikova, of Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), told Al Jazeera that the first 48-72 hours after an earthquake is a critical time to pull survivors out. rubble.

“As time goes on there will be fewer survivors,” Zelikova said from the Jordanian capital Amman. “Our teams working in hospitals in northwestern Syria are starting to see fewer and fewer 72-hour survivors.”

“Staying in the cold for a long time is the biggest factor leading to blood loss and body temperature, which will affect the survival of the victims,” ​​she continued.

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 6).

Cranes remove debris next to destroyed buildings in Antakya, Hatay province, Turkey. Photo: Al Jazeera

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 7).

Many buildings were destroyed in Adiyaman, Turkey, by the earthquake. Photo: TRT World

Hurt after hurt

According to Ms. Zelikova, the top concerns after the disaster occurred were the epidemiological situation, cold weather, partially destroyed infrastructure, water-borne diseases, access to epidemics. health care services for people with chronic illnesses and mental health.

“The Syrian people in the North West are already at high risk of mental health decline due to the prolonged crisis and difficult conditions, and of course, such a traumatic event could increase the likelihood of hurt them further,” she said.

Across the border, on February 12, a convoy of 10 UN trucks traveled from Turkey to northwestern Syria, an area largely outside the control of the central government in Damascus. Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to AFP correspondent.

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 8).

A UN aid convoy enters northwestern Syria through the Bab el-Hawa border gate, February 9, 2023, the first convoy since the devastating earthquake. Photo: Al-Arabiya

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 9).

Rescue workers work at a ruined building in the Syrian city of Jableh after the earthquake. Photo: Middle East Eye

The vans carry shelter kits including plastic sheets, ropes, screws and nails for the tent as well as blankets, cushions and mats.

A border crossing between Armenia and Turkey was also opened for the first time in 35 years on February 11 to allow five trucks carrying food and water to enter the earthquake-stricken area.

Aid has been slow to arrive in Syria, where years of conflict have ravaged the care system health and parts of the country are still under rebel control.

The government in Damascus said it had approved the provision of humanitarian assistance to earthquake-stricken areas beyond their control in Idlib province, and a convoy is scheduled to leave on February 12, but was later adjourned without explanation.

The Syrian transport ministry said 57 aid planes had landed in the country this week.

World - Turkey-Syria earthquake: Grief and hope are intertwined (Figure 10).

Survivors stand amid the rubble of an earthquake in Jableh, Syria. Photo: Middle East Eye

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the Security Council (UNSC) to allow the opening of new cross-border aid points between Turkey and Syria, with a meeting to discuss Syria possibly in the coming days..

Minh Duc (According to Al Jazeera, The Telegraph, The Guardian)

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