Tuesday, February 14, 2023

As signs of life fade, earthquake survivors face despair

Quake survivors face despair as signs of life fade

 Turkey's ADIYAMAN: Monday, as the desperate search for anyone still alive likely entered its final hours, thousands of people left homeless by a massive earthquake that struck Turkiye and Syria a week ago crowded into crowded tents or lined up in the streets for hot meals. In the hard-hit Adiyaman, a crew rescued a 4-year-old girl who had been buried under rubble since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Rescuers in the nearby province of Hatay clapped and cheered when a 13-year-old boy named Kaan, who was only known by his first name, was found 182 hours after the earthquake. Sniffer dogs and thermal cameras are being used by thousands of local and international teams, including Turkish coal miners, to search pulverized apartment buildings for signs of life.

Tens of thousands of bodies have been discovered alongside accounts of near-miracle rescues, many of which have been broadcast live on Turkish television and distributed worldwide. According to experts, the window for such rescues is nearly closed due to the total collapse of so many buildings and temperatures that have dropped to minus 6 degrees Celsius.

On February 6, the quake and its subsequent aftershocks, including a major one nine hours after the initial quake, struck southeastern Turkiye and northern Syria, killing over 35,000 people and reducing entire swaths of towns and cities that were home to millions to twisted metal and concrete. Turkiye offered to open a second border crossing to assist the international effort on Monday, after senior UN officials acknowledged that assistance to earthquake victims in Syria had been delayed too long.

Heritage sites like Antakya, a significant ancient port and early center of Christianity historically known as Antioch, on the southern coast of Turkiye, were damaged. In order to contribute to the relief effort and raise funds for the eventual rebuilding or repair of churches, Greek Orthodox churches in the region have launched charity drives.

Nearly no houses were left standing in the village of Polat, 100 kilometers from the epicenter, where residents salvaged refrigerators, washing machines, and other items from destroyed homes. Zehra Kurukafa, a survivor, stated, "Families are being forced to share the tents that are available because there are not enough tents for the homeless." Kurukafa stated, "We sleep in the mud together with two, three, or even four families."

More than 1,50,000 survivors have been relocated to shelters outside of the affected provinces, according to Turkish authorities on Monday. Musa Bozkurt waited for a vehicle to take him and others to western Turkiye in the city of Adiyaman. The 25-year-old stated, "We're going away, but we have no idea what will happen when we get there." We have no objective. Even if a strategy existed, how useful would it be after this hour? My uncle and father are no longer with me. What am I left with?" However, Fuat Ekinci, a 55-year-old farmer, was reluctant to leave his home because he claimed that he lacked the means to live elsewhere and had to tend to fields.

Volunteers from all over Turkiye have come together to help millions of survivors. One group of chefs and restaurant owners fed a line of survivors in downtown Adiyaman with traditional dishes like beans, rice, and lentil soup. The rescue efforts were carried on by additional volunteers.

Sadness and disbelief have given way to rage as the scale of the disaster has become apparent due to the perception that there has been an ineffective response to the historic disaster. This anger may be a problem for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who faces a difficult race for reelection in May.

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