Death Toll in Turkey/Syria Earthquake Climbs Above 20,000 – With an Estimated 6,500 Buildings Collapsed

Posted originally on the CTH on February 9, 2023 | Sundance 

Hopes are fading amid the rescue and recovery workers in the aftermath of the horrific earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria.  Reuters is providing an update on the devastation in the region.  The scale of the impact is widespread and devastating as even more recovery workers continue arriving.

ANTAKYA, Turkey/JANDARIS, Syria, Feb 9, (Reuters) – Cold, hunger and despair gripped hundreds of thousands of people left homeless after the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria three days ago as the death toll passed 20,000 on Thursday.

The rescue of a 2-year-old boy after 79 hours trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey, and several other people raised spirits among weary search crews. But hopes were fading that many more would be found alive in the ruins of towns and cities.

[…] Hundreds of thousands of people in both countries have been left homeless in the middle of winter. Many have camped out in makeshift shelters in supermarket car parks, mosques, roadsides or amid the ruins, often desperate for food, water and heat.

[…] Authorities say some 6,500 buildings in Turkey collapsed and countless more were damaged.

The death toll in Turkey rose to 17,406, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. In Syria, already devastated by nearly 12 years of civil war, more than 3,300 people have died, according to the government and a rescue service in the rebel-held northwest.

In the devastated Syrian town of Jandaris, Ibrahim Khalil Menkaween walked in the rubble-strewn streets clutching a white body bag. He said he had lost seven members of his family, including his wife and two of his brothers.

“I’m holding this bag for when they bring out my brother, and my brother’s young son, and both of their wives, so we can pack them in bags,” he said. “The situation is very bad. And there is no aid.”

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km (280 miles) from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east. In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, 250 km from the epicentre.

Rescue crews looked for survivors at the site of a collapsed building in the dark in the city of Adiyaman with temperatures below freezing, Turkish broadcasters showed.

[…] There were still some signs of hope.

A 2-year-old boy was picked out of the rubble by a Romanian and Polish rescue team in Hatay 79 hours after the earthquake, video released by Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) on Thursday showed.

The boy, wearing a blue, white and black striped sweater, cried as he was gently lifted from the hole where he had been trapped. He was carried away on a blanket. No other details were immediately available.

Another video from IHH showed a helmeted and dust-streaked rescuer weeping with emotion after successfully freeing a little girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Kahramanmaras. (read more)

All-powerful Father, as we see all of the destruction caused by this natural disaster, we mourn for all that has been lost and the fragility of this life.

Lord God of mercy, please comfort those who have lost somebody they love, and those who are yet still searching. Give them comfort and peace.

Heavenly Father, be a protective wing for those who have survived, but lost their home. Grant the men, women and children the needed fortitude and assistance they need to recover and rebuild.  Show me how best to pray for their needs and guide my prayer. 

Lord God of all creation, be strong with directed purpose for those whose job it is to search through the rubble for those lost.  Give them endurance and strength as they complete their responsibilities.

God of comfort and mercy, help us come together as one body in You during this time of tragedy.

You are the redeemer, the source of all strength and courage, please provide us with reassurance, humanity and faith. 

In Your holy and merciful name, we humbly kneel and pray. 

~ Amen.

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