Miracle rescues as Turkey-Syria quake death toll crosses 28000

In the city of Antakya, a two-month-old baby was found alive 128 hours after the quake, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Rescuers searching the rubble of buildings for casualties and survivors in Syria's northwestern Idlib province at the border with Turkey, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo | AFP)
Rescuers searching the rubble of buildings for casualties and survivors in Syria's northwestern Idlib province at the border with Turkey, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo | AFP)

Rescuers pulled a seven-month-old baby and a teenage girl from the rubble on Sunday, nearly a week after aan earthquake devastated Turkey and Syria and killed more than 28,000.

Rescuers also pulled a two-month-old baby and an elderly woman from the rubble on Saturday, five days after an earthquake devastated Turkey and Syria, leaving more than 25,000 dead.

Tens of thousands of local and international rescue workers are still scouring through flattened neighbourhoods despite freezing weather that has compounded the misery of millions now in desperate need of aid.

However, Austrian soldiers and German rescue workers called off their searches for several hours in southern Hatay, citing a difficult security situation and clashes between local groups.

In the midst of  destruction and despair, miraculous tales of survival continue to emerge.

"Is the world there?" asked 70-year-old Menekse Tabak as she was pulled out from the concrete in the southern city of Kahramanmaras -- the epicentre of Monday's 7.8-magnitude tremor -- to applause and cries praising God, according to a video on state broadcaster TRT Haber.

In the city of Antakya, a two-month-old baby was found alive 128 hours after the quake, state news agency Anadolu reported.

A two-year-old girl, a six-month pregnant woman, plus a four-year-old and her father, were among those rescued five days after the quake, Turkish media reported.

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In southern Turkey, families clutched each other in grief at a cotton field transformed into a cemetery, with an endless stream of bodies arriving for swift burial.

Compounding the anguish, the United Nations has warned that at least 870,000 people urgently need hot meals across Turkey and Syria. In Syria alone, up to 5.3 million people may have been made homeless.

A border crossing between Armenia and Turkey opened for the first time in 35 years on Saturday to allow five trucks carrying food and water into the quake-hit region

The United Nations has warned that at least 870,000 people urgently need hot meals across Turkey and Syria. In Syria alone, up to 5.3 million people may have been made homeless.

Almost 26 million people have been affected by the earthquake, the World Health Organization (WHO) said as it launched a flash appeal on Saturday for $42.8 million to cope with immediate, towering health needs.

It warned that dozens of hospitals had been damaged.

Turkey's disaster agency said more than 32,000 people from Turkish organisations are working on search-and-rescue efforts. There are also 8,294 international rescuers.

Medical aid for Aleppo 
Aid has been slow to arrive in Syria, where years of conflict have ravaged the healthcare system and parts of the country remain under the control of rebels.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took a flight full of emergency medical equipment into the quake-stricken city of Aleppo on Saturday.

Tedros toured damaged areas of the city and met two children who lost their parents in the earthquake.

"There are no words to express the pain they are going through," he tweeted.

Damascus said it had approved the delivery of humanitarian assistance to quake-hit areas outside its control in Idlib province and a convoy was expected to leave on Sunday. The delivery was later postponed without explanation.

The transport ministry said 57 aid planes had landed in Syria this week.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the Security Council to authorise the opening of new cross-border aid points between Turkey and Syria. The council will meet to discuss Syria, possibly early next week.

Turkey said it was working on opening two new routes into rebel-held parts of Syria.

Anger builds
Five days of grief and anguish have been slowly building into rage at the poor quality of buildings as well as the government's response to Turkey's worst disaster in nearly a century.

Officials say 12,141 buildings were either destroyed or seriously damaged in the earthquake.

Turkish police reportedly detained 12 people on Saturday, including contractors, over collapsed buildings in the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa.

Officials and medics said 24,617 people had died in Turkey and 3,574 in Syria. The confirmed total now stands at 28,191.

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