“It’s Now A Race Against Time”: Turkey-Syria Earthquake Deaths Top 11,700


Rescuers in Turkey and Syria battled bitter cold against time to find survivors beneath buildings that collapsed after Tuesday’s earthquake killed more than 11,700 people.
The earthquake caused more suffering in an already conflict-ridden border region. With people burning debris in the streets to try to stay warm as international aid began to arrive.

“It’s Now A Race Against Time”: Turkey-Syria Earthquake Deaths Top 11,700

But some remarkable survival stories have emerged, including a newborn baby pulled alive from the rubble of Syria. still attached by its umbilical cord to its mother, who died in Monday’s earthquake.

“We heard a noise while we were digging,” a relative, Khalil al-Suwadi, told AFP. “We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact) so we cut it and my cousin took her to the hospital.”

The child is the only survivor of his immediate family, the rest of whom were killed in the rebel-held town of Jindaris.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Monday while people slept, leveling thousands of structures. Trapping an unknown number of people and affecting millions.

Rows of buildings collapsed near the epicenter between the Turkish cities of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras, leaving some heavy debris.

The devastation prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces on Tuesday.

– ‘The children are frozen’ –

Dozens of countries, including the United States, China and Gulf states, have pledged help. And search teams and relief supplies have begun arriving by air.

Yet people in some of the worst-hit areas said they felt left to fend for themselves.

“I can’t bring my brother back from the ruins. I can’t bring my nephew back. Look around. There are no state officials here, for God’s sake,” said Ali Sagiroglu in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.

“We haven’t seen the conditions here for two days… children are freezing,” he added.

A winter storm added to the woes by making many roads — some of which were damaged by earthquakes — nearly impassable, causing kilometers-long traffic jams in some areas.

Freezing rain and snow risked people forced from their homes — who took shelter in mosques. Schools or even bus shelters — and survivors buried under debris.

“It’s now a race against time,” said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide essential healthcare to the injured and most vulnerable,” he added.

Officials and doctors said Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake killed 9,057 people in Turkey and 2,662 in Syria, bringing the total to 11,719. There are fears that the toll will rise indefinitely, with WHO officials estimating as many as 20,000 could die.

The Syrian Red Crescent has appealed to Western countries to lift sanctions. And provide aid as President Bashar al-Assad’s government remains a pariah in the West, complicating international relief efforts.

Washington and the European Commission said Monday that humanitarian programs they support are responding to the devastation in Syria.


In addition to the damage to Aleppo’s old city and the citadel of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey,

Much of the earthquake-ravaged area of northern Syria has already been devastated by years of fighting and aerial bombardments by Syrian and Russian forces that have destroyed homes, hospitals and clinics.

Residents of the earthquake-ravaged town of Zandairis in northern Syria search for survivors with their bare hands and using pickaxes.

“My whole family is there — my sons, my daughter, my son-in-law… there is no one to get them out,” said Ali Botal, his face wet with blood and his head covered with a woolen shawl. Against severe cold.

“I hear their voices. I know they are alive but there is no one to rescue them,” added the 60-year-old.

Syria’s health ministry reported damage across Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus provinces, where Russia leases a naval facility.

Even before the tragedy, Aleppo – Syria’s pre-war commercial hub – often collapsed due to dilapidated infrastructure.

The country’s last 7.8-magnitude quake was in 1939, when 33,000 people died in eastern Erzincan province.

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