An Awful Milestone Is Reached After Quake

Death toll now exceeds 20K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 9, 2023 1:25 PM CST
An Awful Milestone Is Reached After Quake
Rescuers search a destroyed building in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Thursday.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Tens of thousands of people who lost their homes in a catastrophic earthquake huddled around campfires in the bitter cold and clamored for food and water Thursday, three days after the temblor hit Turkey and Syria and killed more than 20,000, per the AP. Emergency crews used pick axes, shovels, and jackhammers to dig through twisted metal and concrete—and occasionally still pulled out survivors. But in some places, their focus shifted to demolishing unsteady buildings. While stories of miraculous rescues briefly buoyed spirits, the grim reality of the hardship facing survivors cast a pall over devastated communities. The number of deaths surpassed the toll of a 2011 earthquake off Fukushima, Japan, that triggered a tsunami, killing more than 18,400 people.

In northwest Syria, the first UN aid trucks to enter the rebel-controlled area from Turkey since the quake arrived, underscoring the difficulty of getting help to people in the country riven by civil war. In the Turkish city of Antakya, dozens scrambled for aid in front of a truck distributing children's coats and other supplies. Turkish authorities said Thursday that the death toll had risen to more than 17,100 in the country, with more than 70,000 injured. In Syria, which includes government-held and rebel-held areas, more than 3,100 have been reported dead and more than 5,000 injured. It was not clear how many people were still unaccounted for in both countries.

In Adiyaman, Associated Press journalists saw a resident plead with rescuers to look through the rubble of a building where relatives were trapped. The crew refused, saying there was no one alive there, and they had to prioritize areas where there may be survivors. A man, who gave only his name as Ahmet out of fear of government retribution, later asked the AP: “How can I go home and sleep? My brother is there. He may still be alive.” Similar scenes played out through the region.

(More Turkey-Syria earthquake stories.)

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