Nearly a week since the most devastating earthquake in recent history, rescuers in Turkey and Syria were searching for signs of life in freezing temperatures as the death toll surpassed 33,000 and survivors expressed frustration about the rescue efforts.
The United Nations’ top aid official on Sunday said aid efforts have “failed the people in north-west Syria,” where more than 12 years of civil war have resulted in a complex political situation.
“They rightly feel abandoned,” Martin Griffiths wrote on Twitter from the Turkey-Syria border. “Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.”
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, toppling thousands of buildings and injuring tens of thousands of people. As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may need shelter, the U.N. Refugee Agency said, and the death toll in both countries continues to rise.
But news of some remarkable rescues offered glimmers of hope. On Sunday, a young girl was pulled from the rubble “in the 150th hour” in Hatay, Turkey, the country’s health minister said on Twitter, where he shared a video of the rescue.
► Earthquake aid from government-held parts of Syria into territory controlled by hard-line opposition groups has been “held up” by approval issues with Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Reuters reported Sunday.
► Greece’s foreign minister visited Turkey on Sunday in a show of support, despite longstanding tensions between the two countries.
► Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said a Pakistani walked into a Turkish embassy in the U.S. and donated $30 million for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Sharif said on Twitter he was “deeply moved.”
HOW TO HELP: Relief efforts ongoing after deadliest earthquake in years
Sorrow turns to tension over Turkey earthquake response
Many in Turkey say they feel frustrated that rescue operations have proceeded slowly, and that valuable time has been lost during the narrow window for finding people alive beneath the rubble.
Others, particularly in the southern Hatay province near the Syrian border, say that Turkey’s government was late in delivering assistance to the hardest-hit region for what they suspect are both political and religious reasons.
In Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey, Elif Busra Ozturk waited outside the wreckage of a building on Saturday where her uncle and aunt were trapped – believed dead – and where the bodies of two of her cousins had already been found.
“For three days, I waited outside for help. No one came. There were so few rescue teams that they could only intervene in places they were sure there were people alive,” she said.
– Justin Spike, The Associated Press
Turkey issues arrest warrants for building contractors after quakes
As rescuers still pulled a lucky few from the rubble six days after the earthquakes hit, Turkish officials detained or issued arrest warrants for about 130 people allegedly involved in the construction of buildings that toppled down and crushed their occupants.
As despair also bred rage at the agonizingly slow rescue efforts, the focus turned to who was to blame for not better preparing people in the earthquake-prone region that includes an area of Syria that was already suffering from years of civil war. Read more here.
– Justin Spike and Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press
How long can people survive after a disaster?
The amount of time people are able to survive after an earthquake varies significantly. For a person who is trapped under rubble following a quake, survival depends largely on their injuries, where and how they are trapped, their age, preexisting health, weather conditions and other factors.
Most people trapped in the rubble of an earthquake can only survive about a week, experts say.
“Typically, it is rare to find survivors after the fifth to seventh days, and most search and rescue teams will consider stopping by then,” Dr. Jarone Lee, an emergency and disaster medicine expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Associated Press.
“There are many stories of people surviving well past the seven-day mark,” Lee added. “Unfortunately, these are usually rare and extraordinary cases.”
– Mike Snider and Wyatte Grantham-Philips, USA TODAY