The Hamilton Spectator
Search for earthquake survivors enters final hours
Coal miners, sniffer dogs search pulverized blocks for signs of life
The desperate search for earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria entered its final hours Monday as rescuers using sniffer dogs and thermal cameras surveyed pulverized apartment blocks for any sign of life a week after the disaster.
Teams in southern Turkey’s Hatay province cheered and clapped when a 13-year-old boy identified only by his first name, Kaan, was pulled from the rubble.
In Gaziantep province, rescue workers, including coal miners who secured tunnels with wooden supports, found a woman alive in the wreckage of a five-storey building.
Stories of such rescues have flooded the airwaves in recent days.
But tens of thousands of dead have been found during the same period, and experts say the window for rescues has nearly closed, given the length of time that has passed, the fact that temperatures have fallen to -6 C and the severity of the building collapses.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6, reducing huge swaths of towns and cities to mountains of broken concrete and twisted metal. The death toll has surpassed 35,000.
In some areas, searchers placed signs that read “ses yok,” or “no sound,” in front of buildings they had inspected for any sign that someone was alive inside, HaberTurk television reported.
Journalists with The Associated Press in Adiyaman saw a sign painted on a concrete slab in front of wreckage indicating that an expert had inspected it. In Antakya, people left signs displaying their phone numbers and asking crews to contact them if they found any bodies in the rubble.
The quake’s financial damage in Turkey alone was estimated at $84.1 billion (U.S.), according to the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, a non-governmental business organization.
Calculated using a statistical comparison with a similarly devastating 1999 quake, the figure was considerably higher than any official estimates so far.
Elsewhere, Turkey offered to open a second border crossing to assist the international aid effort to Syria, and the United Nations said “a lot of delicate discussions” were taking place to open more border-crossings from Turkey to Syria.
Some 100 kilometres from the epicenter, almost no houses were left standing in the village of Polat, where residents salvaged refrigerators, washing machines and other goods from wrecked homes.
Not enough tents have arrived for the homeless, forcing families to share the tents that are available, survivor Zehra Kurukafa said.
“We sleep in the mud, all together with two, three, even four families,” Kurukafa said.
Turkish authorities said Monday that more than 150,000 survivors have been moved to shelters outside the affected provinces.