Help is coming for many earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, but not fast enough

Search teams and supplies began pouring in from dozens of nations including the United States on Tuesday, but people in some areas of Turkey and Syria were hardest hit on Monday devastating earthquakes said they felt left to their own devices.

“I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There’s no civil servant here, for God’s sake,” said Ali Sagiroglu in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras. “We haven’t seen the state here for two days… Children are freezing from the cold.”

A winter storm added to the misery by rendering many roads – some damaged by the quake – nearly impassable, causing miles of traffic jams in some regions.

The cold rain and snow posed a risk for both people forced from their homes – who took refuge in mosques, schools or even bus stops – and survivors buried under rubble.

Rescue workers pull a survivor from the rubble of a destroyed building in Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey, a day after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on February 7, 2023.


“It’s now a race against time,” said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide basic health care to the injured and the most vulnerable,” he added.

“My whole family is down there – my sons, my daughter, my son-in-law… There’s no one to take them out,” said Ali Battal, in his 60s, with his face bloodied and his head wrapped in a wool scarf against the bitter cold. “I hear their voices. I know they are alive but there is no one to save them.”

The latest figure showed 5,434 people have been killed in Turkey and at least 1,872 in Syria, bringing the total deaths to 7,306, but there are fears the number is rising inexorably, with WHO officials estimating as many as 20,000 have died could be.

The WHO warned that up to 23 million people could be affected by the massive quake and urged nations to get aid to the disaster area quickly.

Search for survivors after deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria


The Syrian Red Crescent called on western countries to lift sanctions and provide aid as President Bashar al-Assad’s government remains a pariah in the west, complicating international relief efforts.

Washington and the European Commission said Monday the humanitarian programs they support responded to the destruction in Syria.

Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo – Syria’s pre-war trading center – were often collapsing due to crumbling infrastructure. Help is coming for many earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, but not fast enough

Rick Schindler

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