Rescue teams rush to find earthquake survivors in Turkey, Syria

(NewsNation) — Rescue teams from around the world are racing to Turkey and Syria to look for survivors and provide aid after earthquakes sent the death toll past 5,000.

Direct Relief, a non-profit disaster relief organization, is mobilizing financial and material support to the region out of the U.S. and Europe, says Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe.

Several countries across the world are also dispatching teams to aid the local search and rescue organization AKUT. The Associated Press reports more than 24,400 emergency personnel are now on the ground. But with such a wide swath of territory hit by Monday’s earthquake and nearly 6,000 buildings confirmed to have collapsed in Turkey alone, their efforts were spread thin.

“It’s a really brutal situation,” Tighe told NewsNation, saying there are a lot of unknowns. “You just don’t know for a few days, but you do know that the priority is search and rescue.”

The scale of the suffering — and the accompanying rescue effort — has been staggering.

More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey alone, and some 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay. They huddled in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centers, while others spent the night outside in blankets gathering around fires.

Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake and several strong aftershocks destroyed hundreds of miles across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria. The quake toppled thousands of buildings, adding devastation to Syria’s 12-year civil war and last month’s cholera outbreak.

In Syria, hospitals and clinics are flooded with injured people. The enclave, centered in Idlib province, houses millions of displaced Syrians who had fled their homes during the country’s civil war. Many of the displaced live in dire conditions in makeshift camps. Many others there and in neighboring government-held areas are housed in buildings weakened by past bombings, leaving them even more vulnerable to shocks from earthquakes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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