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Quake Toll Rises in Turkey, Syria
News Bytes 02/8/2023 2 Comments

Rescue teams toil in Turkey and Syria. They search for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake. In the deadliest quake worldwide in more than a decade, the death toll has passed 11,000. Tens of thousands more are injured.

Search teams from more than two dozen countries joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel. Aid pledges poured in from around the world. But destruction from the 7.8 magnitude quake and its powerful aftershocks was immense and widespread. Many still wait for help. With thousands of buildings toppled, it is unclear how many people might still be trapped.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured a “tent city” in a hard-hit area. People there have been forced from their homes.

Former journalist Ozel Pikal took part in the rescue efforts in Turkey. “Today isn’t a pleasant day because as of today there is no hope left in Malatya,” Pikal said Tuesday.

Road closures and damage in the region make access to areas that need help difficult. There is a shortage of rescuers where Pikal is helping. Meanwhile, cold temperatures hamper rescue efforts.

“Our hands cannot pick up anything because of the cold,” says Pikal. “Work machines are needed.”

The region was already beset by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. That war displaced millions in that country, leaving them relying on outside aid. It also sent millions more to seek refuge across the border in Turkey.

More than two days after the quake, concerns grow for those still trapped. Yet stories of rescues give many hope. A crying newborn was rescued in Syria on Monday. In Turkey, rescuers pulled a three-year-old boy, Arif Kaan, from the rubble.

“For now, the name of hope in [the area] is Arif Kaan,” a Turkish television reporter proclaimed during the dramatic rescue.

Polish rescuers told TVN24 that low temperatures were working against them. But two firefighters say some people were caught in bed under warm covers by the pre-dawn quake. That could help.

The quake comes at a sensitive time for Erdogan, who faces presidential and parliamentary elections in May. The country is experiencing an economic downturn and high inflation. Perceptions that his government mismanaged the crisis could hurt his standings.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, blames the devastation on Erdogan’s two-decade rule. He claims Erdogan has not prepared the country for a disaster and accuses him of misspending funds.

In Syria, aid efforts have been hampered by the ongoing war and the isolation of the rebel-held region along the border.

On Tuesday, U.N. representative Mohamad Safa shared an uplifting photo of two children trapped in rubble. In it, a seven-year-old girl protects her younger brother’s head with her arm during their 17-hour wait for rescue.

On Wednesday, Syria’s Prime Minister Hussein Arnous visited neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo. The city saw buildings collapse because of the earthquake.

“Our priority now is to rescue the people who are still under the rubble,” he says.

Pray for the victims of the earthquake and for those working to help them. Pray that many will turn to the God of all comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

(Rescue workers on a collapsed building search for survivors in Malatya, eastern Turkey, on February 8, 2023. AP/Emrah Gurel)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

That is a serious earthquake and a lot of people killed and injured. What a sweet picture of the little girl and her brother. I hope that the people can get others out of the rubble alive and that they don't injure themselves in the process.

This is a devastating event =

This is a devastating event =( I saw that the death toll is now at 33,000.

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