There are fewer survivors than ever in the ruins of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria
Death toll 24,617 in Turkey, more than 3,500 in Syria, hundreds of thousands homeless in the middle of winter EU envoy rejects accusations of evading Syrian aid. Relief official praises Turkey’s response to the earthquake
ANTIAKH, Turkey/JENDRES, Syria (Reuters) – Rescuers pulled a survivor from the rubble of an earthquake on Sunday, six days after one of the worst natural disasters to hit parts of Syria and Turkey, where the death toll exceeded 28,000, and they appeared to be on alert. . to go up more.
Faced with questions about his handling of Turkey’s most devastating earthquake since 1939, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to start rebuilding within weeks, saying hundreds of thousands of buildings had been destroyed.
In Syria, the disaster has hit hardest in the rebel-held northwest, leaving many homeless for the second time after being displaced by a decade-long civil war, though the region has received little help compared to government-held areas.
The European Union’s envoy to Syria urged Damascus not to politicize humanitarian aid issues, rejecting accusations that the bloc failed to provide sufficient aid to Syrians after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake and large aftershocks.
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“It is absolutely unfair that we are being accused of not providing assistance, when in fact we have been doing exactly that for over a decade and we are doing a lot even during the earthquake crisis,” Dan Stoinescu told Reuters.
In Turkey’s southeastern Hatay province, a Romanian rescue team carried a 35-year-old man named Mustafa down a pile of debris from a building, about 149 hours after the quake, Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk said.
“His health is good, he was talking,” said one of the rescuers. “He’d say, Get me out of here quick, I’ve got claustrophobia.”
The team laid the man on a stretcher and wrapped him in a gold foil blanket in a waiting ambulance, before they hugged each other.
‘loaders with knives’
Gizem, a rescue worker from the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, said on Saturday that she had seen looters in the city of Antakya. “We can’t interfere too much because most thieves carry knives,” he added.
Police and soldiers were deployed to maintain order, assist with traffic, rescue operations and distribute food.
Turkey said about 80,000 people are in hospitals, and more than a million are in temporary shelters.
With basic infrastructure destroyed, the survivors fear disease.
“If people don’t die here under the rubble, they will die from their wounds. If they don’t die, they will die of infection,” Jezem said. “There is no toilet here. It’s a big problem.”
Martin Griffiths, the UN aid coordinator, called the quake the worst the region has seen in 100 years, and predicted the death toll would at least double.
He praised Turkey’s response, saying it was his experience that disaster victims were always frustrated with premature relief efforts.
The quake occurred as Erdogan faces general elections scheduled for June. Even before the disaster, his popularity was declining due to high inflation and the decline of the Turkish currency.
The vote was already seen as the toughest challenge to Erdogan in his two decades in power. He has called for solidarity and condemned “negative” politics.
Some of those affected by the earthquake and opposition politicians accused the government of slow and inadequate relief efforts early on, and critics questioned why the army, which had played a key role after the 1999 earthquake, was not brought in sooner.
Erdogan acknowledged that there were problems, such as the challenge of delivering aid despite damaged transport lines, but said the situation had been brought under control.
The state-owned Anadolu news agency said prosecutors investigating the integrity of the collapsed buildings had ordered the detention or detention of up to 95 people.
The earthquake is classified as the seventh most dangerous natural disaster in the world this century, as the death toll from the earthquake approached 31,000 people as a result of the earthquake that struck neighboring Iran in 2003.
It has killed 24,617 people inside Turkey, and more than 3,500 in Syria, where the tariff has not been updated since Friday.
In the Syrian government-held city of Aleppo, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the disaster as heartbreaking as he oversaw some relief distributions and promised more.
Western countries have largely avoided President Bashar al-Assad during the war that began in 2011.
Additional reporting by Umit Bektas in Antakya, Orhan Coskun in Ankara, Ecı Toksabay and Hüseyin Hayatcifer in Adana, Jonathan Spicer, Darren Butler, Yesim Dikman and Ali Kucukçukmen in Istanbul and Timur Azhari in Beirut; Written by Angus McDowall, Dominic Evans, and Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Francis Kerry, Andrew Cawthorne, and William Mallard
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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