Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll nears 30,000 as more victims are rescued alive after six days

​At least 28,000 people have now been confirmed dead following the Turkey-Syria earthquake. As of Sunday morning, the death toll in Turkey stands at 24,617, while there are more than 3,500 deaths in Syria. 

While both sides are battling with how to rescue people under rubble, the United Nations says over five million people in Syria could be without a home after the earthquake, and almost one million people in Turkey and Syria are in urgent need of food and other supplies. Interestingly, the government in Syria has approved the supply of aid to Northwest Syria, which is not under its control. The Turkish government said it could open new routes into these parts of Syria.

Rescuing more victims after six days

The greatest motivation of the rescue teams is still in place. More victims are still being pulled out after five to six days of the incident. On Sunday morning, rescuers in Hatay, southeast Turkey, pulled out a seven-month-old baby. In the city of Gaziantep, 13-year-old Esma Sultan was pulled out of the rubble alive after spending approximately 140 hours under the rubble. 

As the rescue teams are saving minors, the old are not left out. 70-year-old Menekse Tabak was also pulled out alive after almost six days after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. She spent a total of 121 hours under the rubble. 

Abdulkerim Bey, 67, and his wife, Senem, were also rescued from under the rubble on Saturday in Kahramanmaras.

Although time is running out for the rescuers, the recent successes recorded could only serve as a motivation to keep on the search for those still alive. Unfortunately, the wait for loved ones to be rescued is getting too long. 

A father waiting for at least one of his three children

Almost everyone in the epicentre of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey has lost at least a loved one to the incident. To some whose relatives have been rescued alive, the joy is immeasurable. However, for others, a lot depends on finding their loved ones alive. 

Hassan Guntekin, whose wife, three children and mother-in-law may still be alive under the rubble said rescuing at least one of his three children will be the only reason left to live. 

“I need my three children to be rescued. Even if only one of my kids survives, it will be a hope for me to continue living,” Guntekin told Aljazeera. “Otherwise, there is no point in keeping on living. I don’t know what I will do. Who will call me dad during Eid?”

He criticised the Turkish government’s response to the earthquake, saying it “failed in its response and rescue arrangement. 

“I haven’t seen any officials here, neither from the government nor from the mayor’s office. I don’t want to see them anyway. They don’t come here because they know we don’t want to see them,” he added. 

Like Hassan Guntekin, several other fathers and mothers are waiting for their loved ones to be rescued, while children and waiting for their parents and siblings to come out alive. Unfortunately, time is running out and the UN warns that the death toll could double.

The death toll could double, the UN says

Soon after the earthquake, The United States Geological Survey predicted a scary death toll. It estimated that the death toll could be between 10,000 and 100,000. 

With the death toll now nearing 30,000, Martin Griffith, the UN relief chief, said the figure could double in the coming days.

“I think it is difficult to estimate precisely as we need to get under the rubble but I’m sure it will double or more,” Griffith told Sky News. “We haven’t really begun to count the number of dead.”

Going by Griffith’s words, the death toll could reach 60,000, a figure so scary to imagine. 


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