Syrians are happy about the rescues in the aftermath of the earthquake
The earthquake in the town of Jinderes (Serbiya, Syria) has devastated the lives of thousands of people trapped under the rubble
The crowd is yelling “Allahu akbar” and Arabic for God is great. In northwestern Syria, civil defense groups and volunteers pull a boy out of the rubble after an earthquake.
Rescue efforts continue as untold others remain trapped under the rubble. Stories of miraculous rescues, like that of a baby girl born under the rubble, are a bullhorn for what’s at stake.
On Wednesday, NPR was able to speak to her on the phone. The part of Syria that’s under opposition control is called Jinderes. He said countless buildings there have collapsed. People are waiting for help in the cold. Aftershocks have made buildings still standing unlivable.
He said that humanitarian aid and international aid haven’t appeared in 48 hours, and that the little help that is arriving is a haphazard grassroots effort.
The roads in Turkey are so jammed with trucks bringing everything from excavators to blankets that it is hard to get a ride. Thousands of tons of aid has poured in from countries around the world. Lives are still being saved because of the arrival of special equipment to detect people still trapped under the rubble days after the earthquake.
More than 1,200 people have died in other parts of Syria due to the earthquake, the Syrian Health Ministry said. Over 16,000 people have died in Syria and Turkey according to The Associated Press. Tens of thousands have been injured.
“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.
The situation in northwestern Syria is dire because of the lack of heavy machinery to lift rubble. Power outages have resulted in fuel shortages in hospitals.
Mohammed Juma was able to survive despite his family being crushed by the rubble. In the freezing nights, the 20-year-old and others in this town — still dazed and in shock — burn possessions found in the debris for heat.
In the northwest of Syria, the town of Jinderis heard the screams of those trapped under the rubble, but without the right equipment, they were powerless to save them.
The WHO is concerned about people in northwestern Syria, a region with little access to aid. The United Nations’ health agency said it had asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to open more border crossing points with Turkey to allow aid in.
The White Helmets: Searching for Water, Basic Services, and Survival in Syria’s Second War after More Than Two Years of War
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.
Civil defense teams in Syria are using a few excavators to recover the dead. On Friday morning in Jinderis, at least 850 bodies had been pulled from the rubble. Tabakh was killed while sleeping with his son in his bed, as the falling debris took his life. Tabakh’s wife died beside him. He said that few friends were able to come to the burial because they were too busy burying their own loved ones.
They’ve been left without anything after years of war. Tens of thousands now live with almost no access to basic services in makeshift tents set up in the olive groves where the mud clogs and weighs down the legs of children playing outside.
Delivering aid to Syria has been limited by restrictions on the cross-border mechanism agreed by the UN Security Council resolution in 2014 to allow aid to cross four places on the Turkey-Syria border.
Less than one hour’s drive from one of the open border crossings, the town of Sawran now has no running water. On one side of the main street is the destroyed home of the Turki family, where nine people, including five children died. Across the road a family of seven were killed. The neighbors moved to Sawran after fleeing the area where the government of Syria used the nerve agent sarin to kill 89 people.
The White Helmets is a group of over 3000 men and women who volunteer their time to save lives and strengthen communities in Syria. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.
The United Nations’ failure to respond to Assad’s crisis: The humanitarian response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has been unresolved
It has been a week since the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and we are still experiencing horror and pain on a scale we had not seen before.
While Martin Griffiths, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, hailed the search and rescue efforts after the earthquake as “unparalleled in history,” in northwest Syria we were left to do what we could with limited existing equipment and manpower. 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.
Our hopes of finding survivors have waned. With every body pulled from the rubble, my heart breaks for the lost ones because we didn’t get the help we needed in time.
The only organization in this part of the country with the equipment and training to undertake heavy search and rescue is us. I am grateful for the dedication of the volunteers and their hard work.
Assad’s intervention has come too late. The UN’s insistence on waiting for the Syrian regime’s permission — the very regime that has bombed, gassed, starved, forcibly displaced and imprisoned millions of Syrians — is unforgivable. It is no secret that the Syrian regime is not a credible partner in addressing the suffering of all Syrians in a neutral and impartial manner.
The United Nations needs to do better. Something is clearly broken if the very system that was set up to protect and save human lives during an emergency leaves children to die under the rubble as precious minutes and hours pass.
The UN was asking the Security Council to authorize aid access through two more border crossings, which wasted time, according to Griffiths. Legal analysts and scholars believe that the need is too high for aid to be politicized.
Time and again Russia has used its veto at the Security Council to shut border crossings, reducing the routes for delivery of cross-border aid via Turkey to a single entry. If additional crossing are to be opened on a temporary basis they need to open more cross-border routes.
Emotional Phone Call of the Rescuer Mustafa Avci, 33, in a Turkish Collapsing Building
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.
What is the status of my mother and everyone? The man is speaking into his cell phone while on the stretcher. His friend says, “Everyone is well… they are all waiting for you… I am coming to you.”
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.
The video was released by Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, showing a phone call between Avci and his friend, in a reminder that even after 11 days there is still a chance to find survivors.
The rescue of Avci came late on Thursday night, as the death toll across Turkey and Syria rose to at least 43,887 people.
In the video, Avci can be seen wearing a neck brace and appears wide-eyed with hope as he asks: “Did everyone escape okay…? Let me hear their voices if for a moment.”
Koca, the minister, said that Avci, a man in his 30’s, and a second man, Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26, were rescued from under a private hospital building.
Most successful rescues occur within a day or two and it is uncommon for people to survive for more than 100 hours trapped in rubble.
He thought the other rescue workers were hallucinating and that the boy had died with his eyes open. But the child cried out, “Brother! I do not feel my legs. It’s time to save me!
We get tears in our eyes from time to time as a result of the boy’s rescue. “He is quite well and conscious. Hopefully, he will get better.”
The disaster of northwest Syria: A multi-million-plus people’s humanitarian crisis since the 2011 Arab Spring left behind by the Assad regime and the WHO
Donations are pouring in from all over the world, but many survivors have been left homeless due to lack of access to basic necessities.
A lot of lives have been saved because of the way people banded together and pulled others from the rubble. Mike Ryan, WHO emergencies director, said that the health workers had done amazing work in both countries.
More than 8,500 people need to be accommodated in 66 functional hospitals, and only about 125% of the beds are available for short hospital stays. Moreover, all of northwest Syria has just 86 orthopaedic surgeons, 64 X-ray machines, 7 computerized tomography (CT) scanners and one magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine across the region, according to WHO-compiled data published towards the end of 2022. Gynaecologist Ikram Haboush, director of Idleb city’s sole public maternity-hospital, says “the medical situation in northwest Syria is catastrophic”.
After the 2011 Arab Spring, Syria’s government used military force against all opposition. Roughly 60% of northwest Syria’s 4.1 million people are internally displaced, having fled bombing assaults from the government of Assad with military backing from Russia.
Hospitals in this region have been overwhelmed as they attempt to accommodate thousands of injured people in spaces with severely limited beds, medical supplies, surgical equipment and intensive-care facilities.
An Epidemics Officer at King’s College London said the supply of antibiotics ran out after the earthquake. “We have used the medications and serums that would have lasted us for four to six months in two to three days,” adds Haboush. The WHO has started airlifting medicines and medical supplies, but says northwest Syria also needs essential diagnostic equipment such as X-ray machines.
“People are running all over the place to make use of any existing resources, including basic ambulances,” Ekzayez says. The medical staff at the maternity hospital in Idleb have been working non-stop since the first earthquake hit. The fifth and sixth floors are used by the hospital. Haboush recalls that they had to relocate the babies from the incubators to the ground floor.
Buildings are safe: Assessing the structural status in northwest Syria to help prepare for post-earthquake trauma and the medical situation in Syria
Doctors who spoke to nature in northwest Syria stated that the most common injuries are injury to the limb, trauma injuries, crush injuries, and bleeding.
People with crush syndrome need intensive care and dialysis, says cardiologist Jawad Abu Hatab, who is dean of medicine at Free Aleppo University in northwest Syria. However, the region has only 73 renal dialysis machines, according to the WHO-compiled data.
There were cases of cardiac arrests from the shock and horror of the catastrophe. The medical community is also preparing to deal with more cases of post-earthquake trauma, especially among children and women.
Volunteer engineers are going house-to-house checking which of some 8,500 earthquake-damaged buildings are safe enough for people to return to. But lacking in the necessary tools and safety equipment, they are resorting to tapping walls with household implements such as simple hammers and making decisions using the naked eye.
“Assessing the structural status of buildings is as urgent as the medical situation and should not be underestimated because aftershocks are still on-going says Muhammad Azmie Tawackol, a civil engineer and the association’s president. But in northwest Syria, people are having to use whatever methods are available, he adds.
The experts from the Syrian diaspora are helping with virtual assessments in places that are not accessible by local engineers. Residents who have damaged buildings are taking photos and videos of the interiors and sending them to members of the Syrian Engineers Association in a nearby country.
Seismic Response of the Buildings and Engineers in Syria during the Second World War II: The Case for Nuclear Reconstructive Engineering in Syria
Buildings in danger of collapsing are being reinforced with whatever materials are available, irrespective of whether they are suitable. Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers would work better for seismic reinforcement, Mohammad Khear Hayek, an engineer with the volunteers association, told Nature. Instead, they are having to use brittle industrial iron. Hayek says that they must respond quickly because they are in an emergency situation.
The next step is to analyse the reports and produce statistical studies, which will be important in the reconstruction phase, according to Ali Hallak, a computer engineer.
Many buildings will need to be rebuilt, but there is a shortage of engineers in northwest Syria, says Hayek. Before the earthquake, “we talked about a need to train engineers on reconstruction according to appropriate safety standards”, Hayek says. “Now this has become a necessity,” he adds.