ANTAKYA: Nine survivors were rescued from the rubble in Turkiye on Tuesday, more than a week after a massive earthquake struck, as the focus of the aid effort shifted to helping people now struggling without shelter or enough food in the bitter cold.
The disaster — with a combined death toll in Turkiye and neighbouring Syria exceeding 41,000 — has ravaged cities in both countries, leaving many survivors homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.
Those rescued on Tuesday included two brothers, aged 17 and 21, pulled from an apartment block in Kahramanmaras province, and a Syrian man and young woman in a leopard-print headscarf in Antakya rescued after over 200 hours in the rubble. There could be further people alive still to find, said one rescuer.
But UN authorities have said the rescue phase is coming to a close, with the focus turning to shelter, food and schooling. “People are suffering a lot. We applied to receive a tent, aid, or something, but up to now we didn’t receive anything,” said Hassan Saimoua, a refugee staying with his family in a playground in Turkiye’s southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Saimoua and other Syrians who had found refuge in Gaziantep from the war at home but were made homeless by the quake used plastic sheets, blankets and cardboard to erect makeshift tents in the playground.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2023