Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: Bad weather complicates rescue work

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Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: bad weather complicates the task of relief

Rescuers carry a rescued young man on a stretcher through the rubble of buildings in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the quake.

Rescuers continue their search for survivors on Tuesday, the day after the powerful earthquake whose toll now exceeds 5,000 dead in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, a real race against the passing hours and the freezing cold.

Twenty-three million people are possibly at risk, including around five million vulnerable people, warned the World Health Organization (WHO), which has pledged its support.

International aid is due to start arriving on Tuesday for affected areas in Turkey and Syria. The first tremor early Monday, followed by several strong aftershocks, reached a magnitude of 7.8 and was felt as far away as Lebanon, Cyprus and northern Iraq.

An Iraqi plane carrying aid at the airport in Damascus, Syria.

In Turkey, the death toll currently stands at 3,419 and the injured at 20,534, according to Vice President Fuat Oktay.

In Syria, at least 1,602 people died and 3,640 were injured, according to Syrian authorities and rescue workers in rebel areas. In the government-controlled part of Syria, the toll has risen to 812 dead and 1,449 injured, according to the Ministry of Health.

In areas under rebel control, the White Helmets, civil protection volunteers, reported 790 dead and more than 2,200 injured.

In Jandairis, a Syrian border town from Turkey, a living baby – a little girl – still connected by the umbilical cord to her dead mother like all other family members, was pulled from the rubble of a building.

In Hatay, a Turkish city on the Syrian border, rescuers fought hard in the cold, in the pouring rain or snow, sometimes with their bare hands, to save every life that could be saved. A 7-year-old child was extricated from the ruins under the eyes of AFP, after more than 20 hours of terror. Where is my mom? she said to the rescuer who held her in his arms.

Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu, a former Chelsea and Newcastle player who joined the Turkish club Haytayspor, was found alive in a collapsed building in Hatay, according to Ghana's ambassador to Turkey.

The bad weather in the region complicates the task of rescue and makes the fate of the survivors even more bitter, shivering in tents or around improvised braziers. Deeply scarred, the hard-to-reach region of Kahramanmaras is buried in snow.

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The first teams of foreign rescuers, from France and Qatar in particular, arrive on Tuesday. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared a state of emergency in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake, 45 countries offered their help.

The US President Joe Biden has pledged whatever help is needed. Two US detachments of 79 rescue workers each were preparing to go to the scene, according to the White House.

China on Tuesday announced, according to state media, the sending of $5.9 million in aid, including specialized urban rescue workers, medical teams and emergency equipment. #x27;emergency.

In Moscow, Russians were bringing warm clothes for the earthquake victims to the Turkish Embassy. My husband's whole family lives in Hatay, explains to AFP Evguénia Oztiouk, a forty-something Muscovite entrepreneur married to a Turkish national. Others brought flowers, like Alikber Tarayev, a 58-year-old lawyer who came with other Azerbaijanis living in Moscow.

In Syria, the appeal launched by the authorities in Damascus was mainly heard by its Russian ally, who promised rescue teams in the coming hours, while according to the army, more than 300 Russian soldiers are already on the scene to help the relief .

The UN also reacted, but insisting that the aid provided would go to all Syrians throughout the territory.

Taking advantage of the chaos, around 20 suspected fighters from the armed group Islamic State (IS) escaped from a military prison in Rajo, controlled by pro-Turkish rebels.

The death toll could rise to 5,000, according to the authorities.

The tolls on both sides of the border continue to grow.

In Turkey alone, the authorities have counted nearly 5,000 buildings collapsed. And the drastic drop in temperatures puts the injured, trapped in the ruins, at further risk of hypothermia.

The WHO itself has said it is expect the worst and fear balance sheets eight times higher than the initial numbers.

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During the day on Monday, no less than 185 aftershocks were recorded, following the first two tremors: one of 7.8 which occurred in the middle of the night (4:17 a.m. local time), the other, of magnitude 7.5, midday, both in southeastern Turkey.

Several aftershocks were recorded overnight, before dawn on Tuesday . The strongest, of magnitude 5.5, was recorded at 6:13 a.m. local time (3:13 a.m. UTC) 9 km southeast of Gölbasi (south).

Dormitories have been opened by local authorities in gymnasiums, colleges or even mosques to accommodate survivors. But for fear of new tremors, many inhabitants preferred to spend the night outside, as in Sanliurfa, in the Turkish southeast.

Who has not fear? Everyone is scared!, assured Mustafa Koyuncu, 55, crammed with his wife and five children in the family car.

This earthquake is the largest in Turkey since the earthquake on August 17, 1999. He then caused the death of 17,000 people, including a thousand in Istanbul. The country is in national mourning for seven days.