The search for possible survivors in most of the provinces affected by the earthquake of February 6 in Turkey has concluded this Sunday, February 19. Although experts point out that most successful finds take place in the first 24 hours of a disaster, this country has witnessed miraculous rescues in the last days in which several people have been brought out alive after spending up to 12 days under the ruins. The most recent were reported on Saturday, February 18, when emergency teams found three people, including a child, although the little boy later died of dehydration.
Now, the chances of finding life in the rubble are further reduced. “In many of our provinces, search and rescue efforts have been completed. They continue in the provinces of Kahramanmaraş and Hatay”, the head of the Turkish disaster agency, Yunus Sezer, confirmed in Ankara. Specifically, efforts to locate possible survivors continue in some 40 buildings in the aforementioned provinces.
Two weeks after the worst event in the region, as described by the UN, the authorities confirm more than 46,000 fatalities from the earthquake and aftershocks that shook both southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. The majority of deaths are registered on Turkish soil. But the death toll is expected to skyrocket due to thousands of people still missing. In Turkey alone, around 345,000 apartments were destroyed, according to official figures.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Turkey on Sunday to boost Washington’s aid to the region hit by the devastating 7.6-magnitude earthquake. Blinken, who flew over one of the most affected areas together with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, announced an additional $100 million to respond to the consequences of the devastation in the two countries. Thus, the total amount up to now confirmed by Washington to deal with the catastrophe rises to 185 million dollars.
The people of Syria, a nation already battered by war for more than a decade, have seen obstacles to accessing humanitarian aid. With temperatures below zero and in the open air or in improvised camps, thousands of families who were left homeless remain, while they urge the delivery of food, water, blankets and other basic necessities. Although various human rights organizations report their efforts to bring assistance to those affected, delivery is slowing down. And it is that in the midst of the internal conflict, the nation is partially dominated by the Bashar Al-Assad regime and other areas by opposition groups such as the jihadist organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
The final stretch of the rescue operations in Turkey has arrived, with hopes of finding more survivors eclipsed. The death toll in Syria and Turkey has exceeded the barrier of 46,000 and the US has announced $100 million more in aid. The people of Syria have seen obstacles to accessing humanitarian aid, and the head of the World Food Program (WFP) has pressured the groups that control the northwest of the country to stop blocking access to the area, in order to bring aid to hundreds of thousands of people devastated by the tragedy.