The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck provinces in Syria and Turkey early last week has surpassed 33,000. Rescue crews have worked tirelessly to find people beneath the devastating rubble since Feb. 6.
On Sunday (Feb. 12), the United Nations sent a convoy of 10 trucks loaded with plastic sheets, blankets, mattresses and other critical supplies to northwest Syria. The U.S. has pledged to provide $85 million in life-saving assistance, the Department of Defense deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to the region, and rescue teams composed of 159 members and 12 rescue dogs are assisting Turkish efforts to locate survivors.
“Today, our hearts and our deepest condolences are with all those who have lost precious loved ones, those who are injured, and those who saw their homes and businesses destroyed,” said President Joe Biden in a Feb. 6 statement.
Although the death toll is expected to continue to rise, the littlest survivors have provided hope to the countries during their time of despair. CNN reported that a two-month-old baby was found alive after 108 hours. He is said to be smiling, laughing and in good health.
Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the process of holding building contractors, architects and engineers responsible for the structures that collapsed or suffered severe damage has already started. Thus far, 131 people have been identified, more than 100 arrest warrants have been issued, and at least 12 people are in custody, according to The Guardian. “We will follow this up meticulously until the necessary judicial process is concluded, especially for buildings that suffered heavy damage and caused deaths and injuries,” said Oktay. An initial assessment of the damage found that 24,921 buildings were destroyed by the unprecedented earthquake.
While there is still no semblance of life as Turkish and Syrian citizens knew it prior to the natural disaster, Turkey’s Hatay Airport has resumed operations after undergoing 96 hours of repairs. Photos of the damage showed cracked and unusable runways.
Hatay Havalimanı pistindeki hasarı hızlıca onardık.
Havalimanımız bugün hizmet vermeye başladı. pic.twitter.com/XBD628z8Av
— T.C. Ulaştırma ve Altyapı Bakanlığı (@UABakanligi) February 12, 2023