Yesterday, the successful rescue of six members of the same family who had been trapped under the rubble since Monday instilled hope among locals and rescuers that more survivors could be found across the earthquake-stricken area.
The family reportedly survived the collapsed building in Turkiye’s Hatay province by huddling together in a small air pocket, also narrowly escaping the Mediterranean Sea rising and flooding of the city centre, only a few feet away from where the family were trapped.
Amid the apocalyptic scenes of dust and rubble, a 10-day old baby and its mother were miraculously found alive after 90 hours beneath debris, also in the Hatay province.
Near the earthquake’s epicentre, in Gazantiep, a teenage boy who had been trapped for 94 hours was rescued by emergency workers. The 17-year-old said that in order to survive he had forced himself to drink his own urine.
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern Türkiye’s Kahramanmaraş province and across the border in Syria early Monday, followed by over 100 aftershocks and another 7.5 magnitude quake hit the same area in the afternoon with an estimated 22,000 people in Syria and Turkey declared dead and thousands still to be found.
In Syria, the White Helmets have been helping and training locals on how to best rescue a maximum number of people, in the absence of a caretaking government. Syrian foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said that any aid it receives must go through the capital Damascus. This means that rebel-held areas are reliant on aid groups including the UN, the first aid convoy of which crossed into northwestern Syria from Turkey only yesterday.
Turkish president Recep Erdogan has called it “the disaster of the century”. The Turkish authorities declared more than 19,000 people killed in the disaster so far in Turkey, and nearly 75,000 injured. On the other side of the border in war-torn Syria, some 3,384 have been confirmed killed, bringing the total number of dead to more than 22,000.
According to Sky News, “the total outstrips the more than 18,400 who died in the 2011 earthquake off Fukushima, Japan, that triggered a tsunami and the estimated 18,000 people who died in a tremor near Istanbul in 1999.”
Despite freezing temperatures and a devastating toll on an estimated 23 million people across affected areas of Syria and Turkey, emergency services and rescuers continue to search with newfound hope following the rescue of survivors, now deemed “miracles”. Tent cities have been erected for the millions displaced to survive the freezing temperatures and charities put in place to raise money for the people of Turkey and Syria affected by the earthquakes.
On Monday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani ordered the launch of an airlift to help quake victims. State news agency QNA said a rescue team, a field hospital, relief aid, tents and winter supplies will also be dispatched to the country. Qatar has also pledged to send 10,000 mobile homes to Türkiye and Syria, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
Aid poured into Turkey from all corners of the world including German dogs to help search for survivors, Italian rescue teams, India’s emergency response equipment, Iraqi aid supplies, or more recently, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) pledging $85 million towards shelter, cold weather supplies, food, water and healthcare.