SANLIURFA – In a race against time on Tuesday, rescuers in Turkey and Syria braved bitter cold in an effort to uncover survivors under buildings devastated by an earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 6,200 people.
People were forced to burn debris in the streets to attempt to remain warm as emergency help started to arrive due to tremors that added to the agony in a border region already afflicted by conflict.
A newborn infant was found alive in Syria’s debris and was still connected to her deceased mother by her umbilical cord. This is just one of the remarkable survival stories that have surfaced.
A relative, Khalil al-Suwadi, told AFP, “We heard a voice while we were excavating.”
“We cleaned the area of debris and discovered the infant with the umbilical chord still attached. We cut it, and my cousin brought her to the hospital.”
The newborn is the only member of her immediate family to have survived; everyone else was wiped out in the rebel-held town of Jindayris.
Turkey-Syria earthquake calamity
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred on Monday while people were asleep destroyed thousands of buildings, trapped an undetermined number of people, and may have affected millions of people.
The worst destructions were found close to the epicentre of the earthquake, between the Turkish cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, when entire rows of buildings fell.
In response to the devastation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday proclaimed a three-month state of emergency in ten districts in the south-east.
Numerous countries, including the United States, China, and the Gulf States, have expressed their willingness to assist, and flights carrying search teams and relief supplies have started to arrive.
However, residents of some of the most severely affected districts claimed they felt abandoned.
“I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There is no state official here, for God’s sake,” said Ali Sagiroglu in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.
“For two days we haven’t seen the state around here… Children are freezing from the cold,” he added.