Death toll in Turkey and Syria earthquake tops 41,000

Desperation and grief continue to grow as rescue workers struggle to recover survivors following the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reported a death toll of 35,418, while Syrian officials have said that at least 5,800 people have died in Syria. Tony Nemer, a geologist at Beirut American University, warned that Turkey could see another quake soon.

Frantic rescue workers struggle to save survivors

The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes struck nine hours apart in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6. Speaking with USA TODAY, Salam Aldeen, the founder of Team Humanity, a veteran aid and rescue worker, described the heartbreaking scenes in Antakya, Turkey, where he spent a week digging through the rubble. He recounted finding a man and a blanket-swaddled infant who had died together. In another instance, a woman lost her husband and two children. Aldeen and his friends worked almost 24 hours straight to extricate the bodies, and then he built a fire to keep warm. He and his team lived on crackers and bread for a week, occasionally taking naps in their rental car.

UN appeal for funds

The United Nations launched a funding appeal, stating that nearly nine million people in Syria have been affected by the deadly earthquake. The organization said that humanitarian agencies will need almost $400 million to respond to "the most pressing humanitarian needs" over the next three months. The funds will be used to provide shelter, health care, food, water, sanitation, education, nutrition, and protection services. The UN also hopes the funds will create jobs for residents who want to help move debris.

Hopeful rescues

Several people were pulled from the debris in Southern Turkey, offering hope that more earthquake victims may still be alive. Among those rescued was a 35-year-old woman who was believed to have been buried for more than 200 hours in the Kahramanmaraş region, while her husband was also pulled from the rubble. Two brothers, a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old, were also rescued from collapsed buildings. In the city of Adıyaman, workers pulled an 18-year-old boy and a man alive from the rubble, while Ukraine’s rescue team rescued a woman in the southern province of Hatay. More than 8,000 people have been rescued alive from rubble in Turkey, according to President Erdogan.

The need for support

The situation remains dire, and the UN has emphasized the need for financial support. The humanitarian crisis that has emerged following these earthquakes will be a true test of global generosity, solidarity, and diplomacy. The funds collected will also be used to repair basic services such as lighting, water and sanitation, agriculture, and education, as well as to create new supply chains.

As rescue workers continue to search for survivors, the people of Turkey and Syria desperately need support. The international community must act now to provide the necessary aid to those affected by these devastating earthquakes.