A little girl was today rescued after spending more than a week trapped under a collapsed apartment building, as rescue crews scramble to reach her older sister who is buried amongst the rubble after earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria.
Harrowing footage shows rescue crews pulling six-year-old Miray from the rubble of her destroyed home in Turkey and carefully placing her on a stretcher as visibly emotional rescuers cheered and shouted ‘God is great’. She had spent 178 hours trapped under the rubble.
The rescue crews are now working against the clock to try and reach Miray’s older sister who is trapped underneath the same building in the southern Turkish city of Adiyaman.
Meanwhile, rescuers pulled a 13-year-old boy, indentified as Kaan, out from underneath the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, more than a week after the devastating earthquake struck.
The teenager held a rescuer’s hand as he was placed on a stretcher, head braced, and covered for warmth, before he was moved into an ambulance.
But reports of incredible rescues are becoming rarer as the time since the quake reaches the limits of the human body’s ability to survive without water, especially in sub-freezing temperatures.
Harrowing footage shows rescue crews pulling six-year-old Miray from the rubble of her destroyed home in Turkey and carefully placing her on a stretcher as visibly emotional rescuers cheered and shouted ‘God is great’
Miray, six, (pictured) was today rescued after spending more than a week trapped under a collapsed apartment building, as rescue crews scramble to reach her older sister who is buried amongst the rubble after earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria
Rescuers pulled a 13-year-old boy out from underneath the rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, more than a week after the devastating earthquake struck
70-year-old Nuray Gurbuz is rescued from the rubble of a collapsed 3-storey- building 178 hours after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit multiple provinces of Turkiye including Hatay
Rescuers embrace each other after rescuing 70-year-old Nuray Gurbuz from the rubble
With hopes of finding many more survivors in the rubble fast fading, the combined death toll in Turkey and neighbouring Syria from last Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake rose above 37,000 and looked set to keep increasing. The UN has warned that the death toll could spiral past 55,000.
Rescuers in Turkey are desperately digging through rubble in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras to try to reach a grandmother, mother and baby who are trapped in one room in a three-storey building, with a fourth person possibly in another room.
They said they were trying to break a wall to reach the survivors but a column was delaying them.
‘We don’t know whether they are alive. We just saw heat with the thermal cameras, but they haven’t made any sound,’ a soldier with the Turkish army said.
British rescuers are going to extraordinary lengths to find survivors trapped under collapsed buildings one week after earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria.
Remarkable footage shows a Briton risking his life by crawling through tunnels created in the rubble to find a trapped man in Hatay province, southern Turkey.
But the rescue phase is ‘coming to a close’, with urgency now switching to providing shelter, food, schooling and psychosocial care, United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said during a visit to Aleppo in northern Syria on Monday.
Some 176 hours after the first earthquake, a woman named Serap Donmez on Monday was pulled out alive from a collapsed apartment block in Antakya by search and rescue teams from Turkey and Oman, state broadcaster TRT reported.
Rescuers also pulled a 40-year-old woman, Sibel Kaya, from wreckage of a five-storey building in the Turkish town of Islahiye. She had spent 170 hours beneath the rubble.
And last night, rescuers pulled free a seven-year-old boy, Mustafa, and 62-year-old Nafize Yilmaz after they spent 163 hours trapped under ruins.
Relatives are overcome with emotion after identifying a body as a family member in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey on Monday
A person is rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building 176 hours after the earthquake struck in Turkey
This aerial view shows collapsed buildings during the ongoing rescue operation in Kahramanmaras, the epicentre of the first 7.8-magnitude earthquake seven days ago, in southeastern Turkey on Monday
An aerial view of collapsed buildings as search and rescue efforts continue in Hatay, Turkey, following the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria
An aerial picture shows the hospital (R) in the town of Harim, near buildings destroyed by an earthquake and tents erected to house homeless residents, in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province on the border with Turkey
The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes struck nine hours apart in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6.
The death toll from both countries on Monday exceeded 37,000, with the death toll expected to rise considerably as search teams find more bodies. Towns and cities lived in by millions have also been reduced to fragments of concrete and twisted metal.
The Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, a non-governmental business organisation, estimated the financial damage from the quake in Turkey alone at 84.1 billion US dollars (£69.3 billion).
The amount was considerably higher than any official estimates so far, and was calculated using a statistical comparison with the similarly devastating 1999 quake that hit north-west Turkey.
Turkey’s disaster agency said more than 32,000 people from the nation’s organisations were working on search-and-rescue efforts, along with 8,294 international rescuers.
A member of a British search team posted a video of a fellow rescuer risking their life by crawling through a collapsed building to search for survivors.
The emergency worker breathes heavily as he lowers his body into a small hole amongst the rubble – knowing that any slight movement could cause the building to collapse further and kill him.
At one point, he slides on to his stomach and shuffles through a small hole, which he only just manages to fit through and into a small area covered with rubble.
The Briton, wearing a respirator, slides across the rubble to reach a man lying on the ground. The rescuer can be heard saying: ‘Hello, I’m Malcolm the doctor.’
The man can be heard replying, ‘Is it okay?’ to which the British rescuer says: ‘Yeah we’re okay.’
Remarkable footage shows a British rescuer risking his life by crawling through tiny tunnels created through the rubble to find a Turkish man who had been trapped for nearly a week in Hatay province, southern Turkey
Footage shows the rescuer breathing heavily as he lowers his body into a small hole amongst the rubble – knowing that any slight movement could cause the building to collapse further and kill him
The girl is stretchered from the rubble by a team of rescuers and military members
An aerial view shows 26-year-old Derya Akdogan as she is rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building 177 hours after the earthquake struck in Hatay province, Turkey
Serap Donmez is rescued from under rubble of a collapsed building after being trapped there for 176 hours following the devastating earthquake in the Turkish province of Hatay
A man reacts after his mother, Serap Donmez, is pulled out alive from a collapsed building after 176 hours
The man sheds tears of joy after his mother is rescued a week after the earthquakes hit
Workers stand on top of a collapsed building as a digger works its way through the debris on February 13 in Hatay, Turkey
An aerial photo shows collapsed buildings in Antakya, Turkey, on February 11
Meanwhile, in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, near the epicentre of the quake, excavators dug through mountains of rubble as a rescue team recovered a body from the wreckage.
Rescuers hoping to reach the three survivors in the city – believed to be a mother, daughter and baby – consisted of a Turkish military team, miners and Spanish firefighters who were first alerted to there being life in the rubble by a search dog, according to engineer officer Halil Kaya.
A thermal scan signalled there were people alive, about five metres within the building, and then a muffled sound was detected, Kaya told the broadcaster.
The miners have excavated around three metres through a neighbouring building that is still standing, putting up support beams as they go.
‘When we said knock on the wall if you can hear us, we heard faint tapping,’ he said.
‘Our colleagues are all here working for 24 hours without sleeping… We will all be here until we get those people out of there.’
In many areas, rescue teams said they lacked sensors and advanced search equipment, leaving them reduced to carefully digging with shovels or only their hands.
‘If we had this kind of equipment, we would have saved hundreds of lives, if not more,’ said Alaa Moubarak, head of civil defence in Jableh, north-west Syria.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Reinoso Angulo, a professor at the Institute of Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the likelihood of finding more people alive is ‘very, very small now’.
Search and rescue team embrace as 35-year-old Bunyamin Idaci is rescued under the rubble of a collapsed building on Monday in Adiyaman, Turkey
Rescuers evacuate a 12-year-old Syrian girl, Cudi, from the rubble of a destroyed building in Hatay, on February 12
People sit around a fire beside collapsed buildings today in Hatay, Turkey
Drone footage shows tents, from Turkey’s AFAD disaster management agency, set up in the stadium of Kahramanmaras following the earthquake
Chinese rescuers in a search and rescue operation in the southern Turkish province of Hatay on February 11
Professor Angulo, lead author of a 2017 study of deaths inside buildings struck by earthquakes, said the odds of survival for people trapped in wreckage fall dramatically after five days and is near zero after nine, although there have been exceptions.
David Alexander, a professor of emergency planning and management at University College London, added that the window for pulling people alive from rubble is ‘almost at an end’.
But, he said, the odds were not very good to begin with – many of the buildings were so poorly constructed that they collapsed into very small pieces, leaving very few spaces large enough for people to survive in.
‘If a frame building of some kind goes over, generally speaking we do find open spaces in a heap of rubble where we can tunnel in,’ Prof Alexander said. ‘Looking at some of these photographs from Turkey and from Syria, there just aren’t the spaces.’
Wintry conditions further reduce the window for survival. Temperatures in the region have fallen to -6C (21F) overnight.
‘The typical way the body compensates for hypothermia is shivering – and shivering requires a lot of calories,’ said Dr Stephanie Lareau, a professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Tech in the US.
‘So if somebody’s deprived of food for a number of days and exposed to cold temperatures, they’re probably going to succumb to hypothermia more rapidly.’
A week after the quakes hit, many people are still without shelter in the streets.
Some survivors are waiting in front of collapsed buildings for the bodies of their loved ones to be retrieved.
Many in Turkey blame faulty construction for the vast devastation and authorities have begun targeting contractors allegedly linked with buildings that collapsed.
At least 131 people are under investigation for their alleged responsibility in the construction of buildings that failed to withstand the quakes, officials said.
Turkey has introduced construction codes that meet earthquake-engineering standards, but experts say the codes are rarely enforced.
In Syria, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said the international community has failed to provide aid.
On a visit to the Turkish-Syrian border on Sunday, he said Syrians are ‘looking for international help that hasn’t arrived’.
‘We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned,’ he said, adding: ‘My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can.’
The death toll in Syria’s rebel-held region has reached 2,166, according to rescue group the White Helmets.
The overall toll in the country, currently in the midst of civil war, stood at 3,581 on Monday, although the 1,387 deaths reported for government-held parts of the country had not been updated for days.
A man walks in the debris of a collapsed building as he awaits news of loved ones on February 13 in Hatay, Turkey
An aerial view of collapsed buildings after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit multiple provinces of Turkey
In its capital, Damascus, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the pain will ripple forward, calling the disaster an ‘unfolding tragedy that’s affecting millions’.
‘The compounding crises of conflict, Covid, cholera, economic decline, and now the earthquake have taken an unbearable toll,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The UN has decried the failure to ship desperately-needed aid to war-torn regions of Syria.
A convoy with supplies for north-west Syria arrived via Turkey, but the UN’s relief chief Martin Griffiths said much more was needed for millions whose homes were destroyed.
Assessing damage in southern Turkey on Saturday, when the toll stood at 28,000, Griffiths said he expected the figure to ‘double or more’ as chances of finding survivors fade with every day.
Supplies have been slow to arrive in Syria, where years of conflict have ravaged the healthcare system and parts of the country remain under the control of rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad, which is under Western sanctions.
But a ten-truck UN convoy crossed into north-west Syria via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to an AFP correspondent, carrying shelter kits, plastic sheeting, rope, blankets, mattresses and carpets.
Bab al-Hawa is the only point for international aid to reach people in rebel-held areas of Syria after nearly 12 years of civil war, after other crossings were closed under pressure from China and Russia.
Dr Ghebreyesus met president Assad in Damascus on Sunday and said the Syrian leader had voiced readiness for more border crossings to help bring aid into the rebel-held northwest.
‘He was open to considering additional cross-border access points for this emergency,’ Dr Ghebreyesus told reporters.
However, he said the WHO was still waiting for a green light from rebel-held areas before going in.
UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen said he United Nations was mobilising funding to support Syria. ‘We’re trying to tell everyone: Put politics aside, this is a time to unite behind a common effort to support the Syrian people,’ he said.
Turkey said on Sunday about 80,000 people were in hospital, and more than one million in temporary shelters.
Assad looked forward to further ‘efficient cooperation’ with the UN agency to improve the shortage in supplies, equipment and medicines, his presidency said.
He had also thanked the United Arab Emirates for providing ‘huge relief and humanitarian aid’, with pledges of tens of millions of dollars.
But in Turkey, security concerns prompted the suspension of some rescue operations, and dozens of people have been arrested for looting or trying to defraud victims in the aftermath of the quake, according to state media.
An Israeli emergency relief organisation said on Sunday it had suspended its earthquake rescue operation in Turkey and returned home because of a ‘significant’ security threat to its staff.
Zehra Kurukafa walks past a destroyed house in the village of Polat, Turkey, on Sunday
After days of grief and anguish, anger in Turkey has been growing over the poor quality of buildings as well as the government’s response to the country’s worst disaster in nearly a century.
A total of 12,141 buildings were officially either destroyed or seriously damaged in Turkey.
In a central district of one of the worst hit cities, Antakya in southern Turkey, business owners emptied their shops on Sunday to prevent merchandise from being stolen by looters.
Residents and aid workers who came from other cities cited worsening security conditions, with widespread accounts of businesses and collapsed homes being robbed.
Amid concerns about hygiene and the spread of infection, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at the weekend that rabies and tetanus vaccine had been sent to the quake zone and that mobile pharmacies had started to operate there.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the government will deal firmly with looters, as he faces questions over his response to the earthquake ahead of an election scheduled for June that is expected to be the toughest of his two decades in power.
The quake is now the sixth most deadly natural disaster this century, behind the 2005 tremor that killed at least 73,000 in Pakistan.
A father and daughter, a toddler and a 10-year-old girl were among other survivors pulled from the ruins of collapsed buildings in Turkey on Sunday, but such scenes are becoming rare as the number of dead climbed relentlessly.
At a funeral near Reyhanli, veiled women wailed and beat their chests as bodies were unloaded from lorries – some in closed wood coffins, others in uncovered coffins, and still others just wrapped in blankets.
Some residents sought to retrieve what they could from the destruction.
In Elbistan, epicentre of an aftershock almost as powerful as Monday’s initial 7.8 magnitude quake, 32-year-old mobile shop owner Mustafa Bahcivan said he had come into town almost daily since then. On Sunday, he sifted through rubble searching for any of his phones that might still be intact and sellable.
‘This used to be one of the busiest streets. Now it’s completely gone,’ he said.
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