The rescue of a man in Iskenderun, Turkey (REUTERS / Umit Bektas)
Rescuers and civilians scrabbled through chunks of concrete and household appliances on Monday, removing tons of debris with their bare hands to find survivors trapped by a devastating earthquake.
“Can anyone hear me?” rescuers yelled as they carried out their search in Kahramanmaras province, the epicenter of the quake. In some parts of southeastern Turkey, screams could be heard coming from below collapsed buildings.
Many people crouched down to take a look under a huge chunk of concrete that was raised somewhat by steel rods. They crawled in again and again trying to reach the survivors, while bulldozers removed rubble below.
During the early hours of this Tuesday, the death toll in Turkey rose to 2,921 and the number of injuries to 15,834, according to the national emergency agency (Afad), while in Syria there are at least 1,300 deaths and 3,400 injuries.
Emergency teams search for people among the rubble of a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
The rescue work was carried out at a time when darkness, rain and cold enveloped the regions of Turkey and Syria that were devastated by the 7.8 earthquake, and by another of great magnitude that shook the place for hours later.
Elsewhere in Kahramanmaras province, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble. One was laid on a stretcher on the snowy ground. Rescuers called for silence from the crowd trying to help in order to hear the survivors and locate them.
In Adana, around 20 people, some wearing emergency services jackets, used electric saws on top of concrete piles to clear space for survivors to escape or be rescued. Later they were joined by bulldozers working among the rubble by the light of large lamps.
Thousands of search and rescue elements, firefighters and paramedics were involved in the work in 10 provinces, as well as some 3,500 soldiers. Residents were lifting concrete and digging up people they heard screaming under buildings. Aftershocks complicated rescue work.
Turkish armed forces ambulance planes were transporting the wounded to hospitals in Istanbul and Ankara, the Defense Ministry said. Rescuers from all over the country were trying to mobilize to the affected provinces amid heavy rain and snowfall. But many in Hatay said they did not have enough help and expressed concern about the widespread destruction and the people trapped in it.
In Syria, a man carried the body of a dead girl next to the rubble of a two-story building. He and a woman placed the girl on the ground under a blanket to protect her from the rain, wrapped her in a blanket, and turned in dismay to see the building that had collapsed.
An official with Turkey’s disaster management authority said 7,840 people have been rescued in 10 provinces. The official, Orhan Tatar, added that 5,606 buildings had collapsed.
He also pointed out that the damages covered a large area and there were places that were difficult to access, but that by Monday night rescue crews had already been appointed to all the collapses.
(With information from AP)
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