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Death toll of Turkey, Syria earthquake grows to over 33,000

The earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday killed 29,605 people in the former country, according to India’s Disaster Management Authority, and 3,574 in the latter, as reported by Polish Radio.

In Turkey, more than 80,000 people were injured in the earthquake, and over 13 million experienced the tremor in some way in as many as 10 Turkish provinces, Polish Radio reported.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, currently dispatched to the Turkish province of Kahramanmaraş, said that it was “difficult to estimate precisely” the number of dead as rescuers still needed to get under the rubble. He, nonetheless, felt that the number “will double or more.”

“That’s terrifying. This is nature striking back in a really harsh way,” he said, adding that “the idea that these mountains of rubble still hold people, some of them still alive” was “deeply shocking”.

Although almost a week has passed since the earthquake, people are still being pulled out alive from under the rubble. Such was the case in Gaziantep, Turkey, where rescuers extracted a 13-year-old girl at dawn on Sunday. In the southern province of Hatay, a seven-month-old boy who had spent 140 hours under the rubble was rescued.

In the same area, a two-year-old girl was rescued, and in Kahramanmaraş province, rescuers pulled a 70-year-old woman alive from under the rubble. Turkey’s Anatalia news agency also reported the rescue of a 35-year-old mother and her six-year-old daughter from a destroyed building in Adiyaman province.

13. osoba zlokalizowana! Trwa próba dotarcia! Oby się udało! Powodzenia 💪👨‍🚒🐕❤️@MSWiA_GOV_PL @eu_echo @PLinTurkey
📸 USAR Poland!!!!!

— Andrzej Bartkowiak (@ABartkowiak_PSP) February 11, 2023

Tireless Polish firefighters

On Sunday, Lithuanian and Czech rescuers with search dogs joined the Polish firefighters and their quadrupedal assistants in scanning the devastated Turkish city of Besni for earthquake survivors trapped under the rubble.

The Polish rescue team HUSAR’s dogs signaled that a living person could be trapped under the debris of a collapsed building in Besni on Saturday. HUSAR had scanned the area with geophones and cameras, which provided no evidence of anybody’s presence. The dogs, however, were persistently signaling otherwise. The firefighters are removing the rubble to extract whoever remains underneath.

HUSAR communications officer Jakub Filip told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that no phone connection could be established with the person.

Consisting of 76 firefighters and eight search dogs, the Polish rescue team has so far saved 12 lives as part of their mission in Besni. They flew into Turkey on Monday, a couple of hours after the quake struck. Initially, they were to remain in Turkey for seven days, but the chief of Poland’s State Fire Department (PSP) said they would remain there at least until Thursday, February 16. The decision was made in consultation with Poland’s Interior and Administration Minister Mariusz Kamiński and Turkish authorities.

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