Rescuers persist in quake-stricken Turkey & Syria, over 12,000 dead

3/14/2023 4:55 PM

Rescuers in Turkey and Syria are working against the clock to find survivors buried beneath the rubble of buildings destroyed by two earthquakes that struck on Monday.

The two large earthquakes - magnitude 7.8 followed by a 7.6 tremor that hit southeastern Turkey along the border with Syria - has so far claimed over 12,000 lives.

The latest reports indicate 9,057 individuals have died in Turkey, with 2,530 fatalities reported in Syria. It is expected the number of casualties will continue to rise.

Turkish search and rescue team, helped by the international community, are working frantically to locate and save the thousands of survivors trapped in ten cities across the country.

The teams face challenges detecting the victims due to the heavy concrete blocks that have collapsed on top of each other.

In Syria, rescuers grapple with a dire shortage of international assistance and aid to save hundreds of trapped people.  

The EU initially only provided minimal aid to Syria through existing humanitarian programs due to sanctions imposed on President Bashar al-Assad's government since 2011.  

But it is now asking member states to “respond favourably” to an official plea from the Syrian government. The US has still declined to cooperate.

Many Turkish citizens expressed frustration with the slow response from state agencies in providing aid with food, tents, or search equipment for the trapped survivors.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged the shortcomings in the government's response.

"Of course, there are shortcomings. The conditions are clear to see. It's not possible to be ready for a disaster like this," Erdogan said.

Several countries have participated in the search and rescue efforts, including Greece, Lebanon, Japan, Poland, Hungary, and France.  

Other nations have offered support by providing equipment and basic necessities.

Amidst the overwhelming destruction, there have been instances of both joy and heartbreak, such as the story of a newborn baby who was discovered beneath the rubble as the sole survivor of her immediate family.