Search for the survivors of Istanbul and Syria’s massive earthquake and aftershocks in the wake of the April 11th Aerial Collider
ISTANBUL — Rescue workers pressed their search Thursday across Turkey and Syria for survivors from this week’s massive earthquake and aftershocks as the window to find people alive began to close.
The number of deaths due to the earthquakes and aftershocks in China and India has surpassed 16,000 according to The Associated Press. Turkey’s government said that in addition to nearly 13,000 people killed, more than 60,000 have been injured. In Syria, more than 3,100 people have died and 5,000 have been injured.
In a visit to Kahramanmaras, a city near the epicenter of the quake, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to survivors, saying “we are face to face with a great disaster.” He said nobody would be left in the streets because of shortfalls by his government. The worst-hit province of Hatay will be visited by the president on Wednesday.
In the city of Antakya, resident Hamideh Mansulolu stood outside what used to be the seven-story residential building where she lived with her family, waiting to hear whether her son, Sedat, survived.
The Second Worldquake in Syria: Rescue Teams and Searches for Newcomers After the Eruptive Katyaramanmaras
Many areas of Syria have been isolated because of the conflict. The United Nations said the first earthquake-related aid convoy crossed from Turkey into northwestern Syria on Friday, the day after an aid shipment planned before the disaster arrived.
Iran, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates have sent hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Syria, and dozens of countries have sent aid to Turkey, including more than 5,000 rescue workers who are arriving in the disaster area.
The sheer magnitude of the disaster has meant that many people still don’t have a place to call their own.
A little girl in a pink blanket is missing after the building in Kahramanmaras collapsed. A young person is one of the latest to die in Monday’s massive earthquake.
Elsewhere, excavators dug out the body of man believed to be a Syrian refugee in his 40s, who seemed to be on a mattress, like many of those who died after the quake struck around 4 a.m.
Rescuers were working from the top of a collapsed building to see if they could reach two people who are believed to be alive. A generator and a pneumatic hand-operated drill were brought up to power the workman, who cleared the rubble with his bare hands.
Rescuers sent an ambulance away after he spotted signs of life under the wreck, saying there was still a lot of work to do.
More than two days after the deadly earthquake and aftershocks rocked the city, rescue teams continued to search through the rubble, the tempo picking up as the day wore on.
Heavy machinery has been increasingly brought into areas where a day earlier cautious searchers relied on their hands to dig through the rubble. The risk posed to those trapped alive must be weighed against their chances of surviving many more hours in the bitter cold.
An Empirical Report on the “Casewell to Katastrophe”: a State of Emergency in Kahramanmaras
A man who works at one of the hospitals in Kahramanmaras has told CNN that there are 350 bodies in the mortuary that weren’t collected by relatives because they died.
He visited an emergency relief area set up by the country’s disaster management agency. Row after row of shining white tents could be seen in the sports stadium, destined to house some of the thousands of families who’ve lost their homes.
The government wants to rebuild Kahramanmaras in a year, and that people will get help with emergency housing, according to a TV broadcast from the relief center.
“We can never let our citizens stay on the streets,” Erdogan said. “Our state is using all its resources with AFAD and municipalities. We will continue to do that.
The government’s initial response had some problems in terms of gas supply and roads, but he said the situation was under control. The government is planning to give 10,000 Turkish liras (around $531 USD) to help families impacted, he added.
Most of the buildings in the city of Kahramanmaras have suffered some damage from the earthquakes, although some newer neighborhoods have escaped the most obvious damage.
At the bottom of the city, many people could be heard crying and lamenting by the tumbled buildings where they or their relatives lived until disaster struck.
A few people held out photographs of their loved ones under the rubble, less in hopes of their rescue than as a remembrance, and said “they are gone.”
In addition to the huge number of fatalities, the quake – one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years – has left tens of thousands injured.
A three-month state of emergency has been declared in 10 Turkish provinces, and aid agencies have warned of “catastrophic” repercussions in northwest Syria, where millions of vulnerable and displaced people were already relying on humanitarian support.
Istanbul’s stock exchange closed until Feb. 15 after initial trading showed rapid declines, triggering a circuit breaker when declines reached 7%. The Turkish economy was already reeling from out-of-control inflation.
The crisis within a crisis: A rare visit to the rebel-held enclave of Jinderis, Syria, a country broken by 10 years of civil war
The crowd chants “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for God is Great. Volunteers and civil defense groups — themselves earthquake survivors — pull a boy out from the rubble alive in rebel-held northwestern Syria.
“It’s a crisis within a crisis,” says Leena Zahra, a Syrian American and humanitarian worker focused on increasing mental health access to globally displaced people. Some families that have been displaced over 20 times will be impacted by this tragedy. It’s just going to be adding on to the psychological impact that they’ve already faced.”
“Humanitarian aid and international aid haven’t appeared 72 hours after the catastrophic earthquake,” he said, describing the little help that is trickling into the region as a haphazard grassroots effort by individual groups.
“Rescue efforts are being carried out by poorly equipped civil defense groups and civilians are trying to help,” Kelliah said. “Everyone’s waiting for international rescue and aid just to be able to process what’s happened, this catastrophe.”
11,000 families are homeless after the earthquake in the rebel-held part of Syria. According to the United UN, there have been as many as 2,000 deaths and thousands of injuries.
“The situation remains grim in north-west Syria where only five percent of reported sites are being covered by search and rescue,” the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.
There is no heavy machinery to lift rubble in northwestern Syria, where people are digging with their own hands. Hospitals have had fuel shortages due to power outages.
JINDERIS, Syria — Mohammed Juma sleeps on the heap of rubble that crushed his family as he survived. The young man and others in the town burn things they found in the debris for heat.
By contrast, across the border in the northwest of Syria, residents of the town of Jinderis heard the screams of those trapped under the rubble but, without the right machinery and equipment, were powerless to save them.
On a rare visit to this rebel-held enclave of a country broken and isolated by more than a decade of civil war, NPR saw no international crews of rescuers; no trucks loaded with machinery or medical aid; no streams of ambulances to save the wounded. The border crossing into Syria was empty and silent.
The death of a family of five in Sawran, Turkey: God is great! A tribute to Abdulhadi and Mohammed Juma
Mohammed Juma said his wife, Alia, and his two children — 20-month old Ali and 6-month old Hussein — were alive after their home collapsed on top of them. Juma and his neighbors pulled at the shattered concrete for hours until their hands bled, but the effort was futile.
The Syrian civil defense teams are using only a few excavators to recover the dead. On Friday morning in Jinderis, at least 850 bodies had been pulled from the rubble. Zakaria Tabakh, 26, remembers cuddling his son, 2-year-old Abdulhadi, to sleep and laying him in his bed, where he was killed by the falling debris. Tabakh and his wife were dead in the bed. He said that few friends were able to come to the burial because they were too busy burying their own loved ones.
They have been left with nothing after years of war. Tens of thousands of people live with almost no access to basic services in makeshift tents set up in the olive groves where the mud builds up and affects the legs of children playing outside.
Less than one hour’s drive from one of the open borders, the town of Sawran has no running water. The destroyed home of the Turki family was on the opposite side of the main street. Across the road a family of seven were killed. Neighbors said they had moved to Sawran after fleeing their home in Khan Sheikhoun, where in 2017 the Syrian government attacked the population with the nerve agent Sarin, killing 89 people.
Dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television, including the rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras 133 hours after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck Monday. First, 12-year-old Nehir Naz Narli was saved, then both of her parents.
The rescue of a family of five from a mound of debris in the hard hit town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province, was reported by TV network HaberTurk. Rescuers shouted, “God is great!” as the last family member, the father, was lifted to safety.
Turkey syriaeearthquake death toll survivors: a woman in her 20s and her father in Elbistan
He said that almost no stone was left standing in some settlements close to the fault line.
The woman in her 20’s was saved from the rubble in Elbistan in the 133rd hour after the earthquake, after another person was saved in the same hour. Police said people shouldn’t clap or cheer in order to stay out of other rescue efforts. She was covered with a blanket on the stretcher. Rescuers were hugging each other. Some shouted “god is great!”
Just an hour earlier, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and soon after a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay.
The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.
Not everything ended so well. A girl is intubated by rescuers after they reached her in the rubble of a collapsed building. She died before the medical teams could free her from the rubble by amputating a limb.
It was not hard to find more survivors despite experts saying that trapped people can live for a week or more. Rescuers were shifting to thermal cameras to help identify life amid the rubble, a sign that any remaining survivors could be too weak to call for help.
Canbulat’s funeral procession in Antakya: The first day of operation of a cemetery on the outskirts of the city
As aid continued to arrive, a 99-member group from the Indian Army’s medical assistance team began treating the injured in a temporary field hospital in the southern city of Iskenderun, where a main hospital was demolished.
Wincing in pain, he said he had been rescued from his collapsed apartment building in the nearby city of Antakya within hours of the quake on Monday. But after receiving basic first aid, he was released without getting proper treatment for his injuries.
I buried everyone that I lost, then came here. Canbulat said, counting his dead relatives: “My daughter is dead, my sibling died, my aunt and her daughter died, and the wife of her son” who was 8 ½ months pregnant.
A large makeshift graveyard was under construction on the outskirts of Antakya on Saturday. Backhoes and bulldozers dug pits in the field on the northeastern edge of the city as trucks and ambulances loaded with black body bags arrived continuously. Soldiers directing traffic on the busy adjacent road warned motorists not to take photographs.
A worker with Turkey’s Ministry of Religious Affairs who did not wish to be identified because of orders not to share information with the media said that around 800 bodies were brought the cemetery on Friday, its first day of operation. He said that as many as 2,000 had been buried by midday.
“People who are coming out from the rubble now, it’s a miracle if they survive. Most of the people that come out now are dead, and they come here,” he said.
The aftermath of the evacuation of a Syrian woman’s house in Jableh, Turkey, according to the head of the World Health Organization
Many people don’t have a place to stay with the temperatures still below freezing. The Turkish government has provided millions of hot meals but is not able to reach many people in need.
Assad and Asma paid a visit to Duha Nurallah, 60, and her son Ibrahim Zakariya, 22, who were pulled out of rubble on Friday in the nearby coastal town of Jableh, according to state TV.
The head of the World Health Organization arrived in Syria’s north-eastern city of Aleppo on Saturday, bringing 35 tons of medical equipment, state news agency SANA reported. He said another plane carrying an additional 30 tons of medical equipment will arrive in the coming days.
The voice messages he’s received chronicling their pain make it impossible to sleep, he says. Haunted by their cries, he lies awake tormented by guilt. He worries that each moment he rests, thousands back home in Syria are still buried alive under rubble.
In an interview with CNN, Al-Dahhan stated that it was destroying him. “When it happened, I was receiving constant voice messages, jumping from number to number on WhatsApp, each one is someone crying, telling me they are seeing people dying around them. I can’t stop hearing them.”
As Al-Dahhan travels to raise money in person, Alsamman is using social media to raise money and deliver 10 food boxes to those who were affected.
The workers who survived, like Al-Dahhan, used the money raised by them to help rescue those trapped under the rubble and deliver aid to survivors.
Al-Dahhan says he can no longer sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time because of the exhaustion he shows in his voice.
“At least I get a little bit of relief, knowing what I’m doing matters, because the more I can fundraise here, the more it helps out there,” he said. “But I am in constant stress that I’m not doing enough and I need to keep going. When I sleep, I feel guilty. I need to be awake every second. I need to be working. I want to get more updates. I feel like I am operating here, but my mind and soul are nowhere to be found.
What Has Happened in Syria During the 2011 June 11 Violations of Human Rights? The Stories of a Syrian Family in New York City
A family has lost two sisters and their children have no one to rely on. He died from a heart attack, and his children were left without a father.
“My mind started racing and I immediately thought it was an Israeli airstrike, since we have had a few of those in Latakia over the past few years,” Alsamman, 27, told CNN. “When I saw the reports of a massive earthquake in the middle of the night, I began to wish it had only been an airstrike.”
He was so distraught over the images of death and destruction on his phone, he didn’t know if any of his friends or family were still alive.
There was not a lot of help coming through and the only ones that could provide aid were the ones already there.
As the chance to rescue survivors dwindled, Syrians in the US panicked and tried to raise as much money as possible for affected areas in Syria.
Nour Al Ghraowi, who was born in Damascus, Syria, came to New York City after the civil war that started in her home country.
Even though the world has been quiet, there are organizations and people that are fighting for them who never stop fighting for them.
The northwest of the country was mostly the site of casualties due to the devastating civil war which has claimed over 300,000 lives since 2011.
Providing mental-health care for Syrians is critical according to Zahra but she emphasized the need for donations to provide immediate needs.
One of the biggest issues contributing to these mental health issues experienced by Syrians in the country and in the US, she says, is the feeling of being abandoned and forgotten.
Syrians were let down by land, air and sea. There is a natural disaster but they have experience bombing, missiles, and demolitions and had to survive on their own. Surrounded by destruction, they had to face and survive alone. “When you are failed by the institutions, again, that are meant to protect you, they are literally left on their own.”
She said that it was natural to ask themselves, do I matter or will I be forgotten again? Will I be something else, like another undignified picture, that is circulating but not humanized?
Keeping Syria in the news: Mental health and aid for earthquake-displaced Syrian children, adults and children, and victims of the UNICEF-Syria crisis
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Sunday that it was the first group to send a team to provide mental-health support to earthquake victims in Syria. The team of Palestinians, along with local volunteers, is providing mental health services to about 300 children and their families in shelters and hospitals, who are suffering from severe trauma and depression as a result of the earthquake.
Some, including Al-Dahhan, have experienced psychological triggers, including photos and videos of buildings toppling during the earthquake, scenes nearly identical to the aftermath of airstrikes that have killed and displaced thousands during the war.
I built walls years ago to counteract the effects of the war. I didn’t want to get hurt again, Al-Dahhan said “But with this earthquake, I feel those walls crumbling. I don’t want to remember certain things, and I can’t think of anything else.
Some, like Zahra and Alsamman, say that they are dealing with survivor’s guilt, which is a sinking feeling that no matter how much they help it will not be enough.
“I can certainly say, without a doubt, as Syrians, we don’t have time to almost mourn or process our grief because we’re trying to use energy, time, resources, all hours of the day, to keep Syria in the news, keep Syria in conversation,” Zahra said.
“We don’t have time to heal those wounds, we are literally shouting from the rooftops, please don’t get distracted, please share, please donate, please help.”
Every hour brings more news of death, children orphaned, entire families still buried under the rubble, as survivors remain in the streets holding onto diminishing glimmers of hope.
Organizations on the ground need help raising awareness, funds and basic items like food, clothing and medicine. But the issue doesn’t stop with short-term relief efforts, Zahra says, arguing that activists must pressure the US and other countries to “activate disaster mechanisms and push for access to hard-to-reach communities.”
The Syrian crisis, Alsamman said, “has become an afterthought, a footnote to mention when talking about the geopolitical complexity of the Middle East.”
The White Helmets: Searching for survivors in the earthquake-stricken West of Aleppo and the Syrian Red Crescent (CNN)
Across the street, workers searched for bodies in the rubble, their hopes of finding survivors dimming so long after the building fell. Ms. Omac, 38, said she had relatives under the debris: a niece and nephew of her husband. She was waiting for the rescuers to pull their relatives out, alive or dead.
Several people cobbled together debris, including some that was tarped on top of a flatbed truck, and built a shelter with blankets and thin mattresses in the beds.
The Turkish Red Crescent said it was speeding up the production of tents to house homeless people, after Turkish media reported a shortage of temporary housing and poor sanitary conditions.
The main focus for the next few months will be providing food, housing and psychological care to the victims of the catastrophe, according to the UN’s top humanitarian chief.
Editor’s Note: Raed Al Saleh is head of The White Helmets, a group of nearly 3,000 volunteers working to save lives and strengthen communities in Syria. The views he speaks of are his own. You can read more opinions on CNN.
In northwest Syria, after the earthquake, we were left to do what we could with limited equipment and manpower, while the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief emphasized that the search and rescue efforts were unparalleled in history. Let me be clear: The White Helmets received no support from the United Nations during the most critical moments of the rescue operations, and even now we have no promise of assistance to restore our operational capacity and help the recovery and rehabilitation efforts.
We have all the equipment and training to perform heavy search and rescue. The volunteers have been doing hard work, and I am very proud of them.
Syria Needs More Border Crossings, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Explains the UN’s Failure to Help the People in North-West Syria
The UN let down the people in northwest Syria by not acting quickly, according to a conversation I had with the UN undersecretary general on Sunday. “We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.
There is no more time to waste. The vision and leadership of the UN secretary-general is crucial to the right side of history. The Security Council and the regime should not be used to restrict humanitarian aid access in the future. Guterres should immediately ensure that the United Nations and international aid agencies have unhindered humanitarian access to ensure more lives are not lost.
According to Sky News, the UN was asking the Security Council to authorize aid access through two more border crossing and it wasted precious time. Legal analysts and scholars have argued against it, and humanitarian organizations say the need is too high for aid entry to be politicized.
The UN said on Monday that the Bashar al-Assad regime had agreed to allow humanitarian aid into northwest Syria for three months. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said opening these crossing points “will allow more aid to go in, faster.”
Russia has used its Security Council veto time and again to shut border crossings, reducing the routes for delivery of cross-border aid via Turkey to a single entry. Allowing more cross-border routes was already needed, so opening more crossings on a temporary basis is not enough.
The rescue of Mustafa Avci, 33, from the rubble of a southern Hatay building by Koca, the world’s health minister
As we searched through the rubble of thousands of buildings, it was the local affected communities that helped us most: lending their cars and heavy vehicles to the response, helping to dig, and donating fuel they could have used to keep themselves warm.
How is my mother? the man on the stretcher asks, speaking calmly into a cell phone. Crying in disbelief, his friend tells him they are all waiting for him.
This was the emotional exchange that followed the rescue of Mustafa Avci, 33, who was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey’s southern Hatay province 261 hours after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the region on February 6.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca shared a video showing the phone call between Avci and his friend in order to remind people that despite the odds, survivors can be found.
According to official figures, the death toll in Turkey and Syria had risen to at least 43,885 people, with the rescue of Avci late on Thursday night.
Avci was in the video wearing a neck brace and asked if everyone had escaped. I will hear their voices if they give me a chance.
Avci and Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26, were both saved from under the ruins of a private hospital building by Koca.
Most successful rescues occur within 24 hours, according to CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Gupta, who is in southern Turkey.
Aydinli said he thought his fellow rescue workers were “hallucinating,” and he assumed the boy had “died with his eyes open.” The child cried out. I don’t feel my legs. Save me!”
“Even now, we get tears in our eyes from time to time,” Aydinli said, referring to the boy’s rescue. He is awake and conscious. Hopefully, he will get better.
“A lot of lives have been saved, a lot of people have been pulled from rubble by their neighbors, by their friends, by their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. The World Health Organization’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said at a news briefing on Wednesday that health workers have done amazing work in both countries.