KAHRAMANMARAS/ ANTAKYA: Families in southern Turkey and Syria spent a second night in the freezing cold on Wednesday as overwhelmed rescuers raced to pull people from the rubble two days after a massive earthquake that killed more than 11,000 people.
In Turkey, dozens of bodies, some covered in blankets and sheets and others in body bags, were lined up on the ground outside a hospital in Hatay province.
Many in the disaster zone had slept their cars or in the streets under blankets, fearful of going back into buildings shaken by the 7.8 magnitude tremor, already Turkey’s deadliest since 1999 that hit in the early hours of Monday.
Rescuers there and in neighboring Syria warned that the death toll would keep rising as some survivors said help had yet to arrive.
“Where are the tents, where are food trucks?” said Melek, 64, in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, adding that she had not seen any rescue teams.
“We haven’t seen any food distribution here, unlike previous disasters in our country. We survived the earthquake, but we will die here due to hunger or cold here.”
With the scale of the disaster becoming ever more apparent, the death toll rose above 7,100 in Turkey. In Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2,500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces but residents in several damaged Turkish cities have voiced anger and despair at what they said was a slow and inadequate response by the authorities.
Erdogan, facing a close-fought election in May, is expected to visit some of the affected areas on Wednesday.
The initial quake, followed hours later by a second one almost as powerful, struck just after 4am on Monday, giving the sleeping population little chance to react.
It toppled thousands of buildings including hospitals, schools and apartment blocks, injured tens of thousands, and left countless people homeless in Turkey and northern Syria.
Turkish authorities say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east broader than the distance between Boston and Philadelphia, or Amsterdam and Paris.
In Syria, it killed people as far south as Hama, some 100km from the epicentre.
Turkey’s disaster management agency said the number of injured was above 38,000. (Int’l News Desk)