The death toll from the very serious earthquake that occurred in the night between Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey and northern Syria rose again on Thursday: they are now over 16,000. Like previous estimates, it is a provisional number: rescue services are still at work and there are thousands missing under the rubble.
The Turkish government said 12,873 people had died in Turkey, while 1,262 people had died in Syria in parts of the country controlled by Bashar al Assad’s regime and at least 1,900 in the country’s northwest territories occupied by rebels: the latter the estimate was made by the White Helmets, an organization of civil defense volunteers known for their relief efforts during the war. The injured are at least 65 thousand.
In recent hours many survivors have also been pulled out of the rubble, but it is becoming less and less likely that the other missing people will be found alive: according to the rescue teams at work, the first 72 hours from the moment of the earthquake are crucial to save the survivors (ie the first three days: yesterday was the last). Steven Godby, a British expert on natural disasters, speaking with the Associated Press estimated that after 72 hours the chances of finding someone alive go from 74% to 22%, reaching 6% on the fifth day after the disaster (in this case Friday).
Both in Syria and in Turkey, the respective governments have mobilized all means and services available, but the damage is very extensive and further aid is needed to deal with everything. Over 110,000 operators and over 5,500 vehicles of various types are at work. Many hospitals are overcrowded and without the necessary staff and tools to cope with everything. Some were destroyed by the earthquake.
Relief materials, rescue teams and economic aid have been sent to both countries from various foreign governments. But the situation is particularly complicated in Syria, where a civil war has been going on for over a decade and had already devastated the country before the earthquake. In many areas of north-west Syria, in particular, i.e. those controlled by the rebels and precisely those most affected by the earthquake, access for relief is very complicated and possible only across the border with Turkey, and in any case with long and partially damaged by the earthquake. Precisely for this reason the White Helmets have asked for help in these hours to be able to manage all the relief efforts.
Complicating matters is the fact that the Assad regime is under sanctions and considered unreliable by much of the West: many fear that if humanitarian aid gets to the regime, Assad could use it as a weapon to blackmail or even starve the rebels.
Reuters reported on Thursday morning that the first humanitarian convoy was sent to north-west Syria, a sign that the situation would be stalling, but no other confirmations have yet been received. Also telling Reuters, a Turkish government official said the border into the area was open for humanitarian convoys and that more would open in the coming days.
– Read also: International earthquake aid will struggle to reach Syria
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