Heavy rainfall and snow have hindered the rescue efforts in Southeast Turkey’s earthquake as the rush to find survivors is still a big question at the scene.
According to BBC News, more than 5,000 people were killed and 15,000 injured in Turkey and over the border in Syria when the quake struck in the early hours of Monday, February 6, 2023.
The 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 (01:17 GMT) on Monday at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep, according to the US Geological Survey.
A later tremor had a magnitude of 7.5, and its epicentre was in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the death toll may rise dramatically as rescuers find more victims at the scene.
Traffic came to a standstill on Tuesday, February 7, on the main highway to the Turkish city of Maras, close to the epicentre of the earthquake and believed to be one of the worst-affected areas.
Seismologists say it was one of the largest ever recorded in Turkey, where at least 2,921 people are now known to have died. Survivors say it took two minutes for the shaking to stop.
One search and rescue team on their way to the city, their van loaded with specialist equipment and supplies, told the BBC they were eager to get there and start looking for survivors, but they had no idea how bad the devastation would be when they arrived.
In the Turkish city of Osmaniye, near the epicentre, pouring rain hindered rescuers as they searched through the rubble looking for any survivors following the deadly earthquake.
Further, a hotel owner in the city told the BBC that of 14 guests staying that night only seven were found.
Countries around the world are strongly sending support to help in the rescue mission, including specialist teams, sniffer dogs, and equipment.
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During the incident, at least 1,400 people are now known to have been killed in Syria where millions of refugees live in camps on the Turkish border.
British-born doctor Shajul Islam has worked in al-Shifa’s hospital in Idlib, in northern Syria, for the past seven years. He told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight program that the carnage in the hospital was the worst had ever seen.
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“Our hospital is full. We have about 300-400 patients in the hospital right now we literally have 2-3 patients per bed,” said Shajul Islam.
He also said that he was caring for 40-45 critically ill patients in the ICU: “I’m taking patients off ventilators to give them to other patients that might have more of a chance of surviving. We’re literally at the entrance of the hospital deciding which patients we are going to try to save.”
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Following an international appeal for help, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 45 countries had offered support.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an international response, saying that many of the families hit by the disaster were “already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge”.
The European Union is sending search and rescue teams to Turkey, while rescuers from the Netherlands and Romania are already on their way. The UK has said it will send 76 specialists, equipment, and rescue dogs.
Also; France, Germany, Israel, and the US have also pledged to help. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered help to both Turkey and Syria, as has Iran.
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In 1999 the earthquake killed more than 17,000 in the northwest while in 1939, 33,000 people died in the eastern province of Erzincan.
This earthquake was powerful enough to be felt as far away as Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel respectively.