Feb 9, 2023
This story was last updated: February 8 @ 8:42 PM EST.
Subzero temperatures, blocked roads, and a sluggish government response are slowing rescue efforts following the worst earthquake to strike Turkey in 83 years. Rescuers worry those problems could make the death toll much worse. 15,000 people have died.
"Where is the state?” one woman asked Reuters as she stood near a collapsed building that held her trapped relatives. “Where have they been for two days? We are begging them. Let us do it, we can get them out."
Survivors in Syria, the border of which is about 50 miles from the quake’s epicenter, had similar concerns. President Bashar al-Assad's government said it recognized their frustrations. They blamed its poor response on western sanctions and the 10-years-long civil war. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said initial problems with the rescue effort had been addressed. He said it was now going smoothly.
The size of the disaster, especially for Turkey, is immense. The quake destroyed 64,000 buildings in 10 of the country’s 81 provinces. The World Health Organization warned that the lives of 23 million people could be affected by the quake and aftershocks.
Time may be running out for rescuers. “The first 72 hours are considered to be critical,” a natural hazards expert told CNBC. “The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%.”
In the devastated city of Antakya, Turkey, a survivor told Reuters she's still waiting for rescuers. “We survived the earthquake,” the 64-year-old woman said. “But we will die here due to hunger or cold.”
Photo from Reuters.
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