Diseases are a new threat as Turkey faces a post-quake water shortage.
Relief efforts are hampered in Syria, and some aid comes through.
Turkey: Two women were pulled from the rubble in Turkey’s southern city of Kahramanmaras and a mother and two children were rescued from the city of Antakya on Wednesday, as rescue efforts shifted to getting relief to survivors nine days after a deadly earthquake.
Rescuers could be seen clapping and hugging each other as an ambulance carried away a 74-year-old woman saved in Kahramanmaras, and earlier in the day, a 46-year-old woman was rescued in the same city, near the center of the quake.
Later that day, 228 hours after the earthquake, a mother called Ela and her children Meysam and Ali were retrieved from the wreckage of an apartment building in Antakya.
The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 41,000, and millions are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, with many survivors left homeless in near-freezing winter weather. Rescues are becoming increasingly rare.
With much of the region’s sewage infrastructure damaged or rendered unusable by the earthquakes, health officials have a formidable task in trying to ensure that people now remain disease-free.
The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed alarm on Wednesday about the health of civilians in northern Syria, with limited access to aid. It has requested that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad open more border crossing points with Turkey to allow supplies to enter the country.
Relief efforts in Syria have been impeded by a civil war that has fragmented the country and divided regional and global powers.
“It’s clear that the zone of greatest concern at the moment is the area of northwestern Syria,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told a briefing in Geneva.
“The impact of the earthquake in areas of Syria controlled by the government is significant, but the services are there and there is access to those people.”
At least two attempts to transport relief to the northwest from elsewhere in Syria were thwarted by civil war battles, but an aid convoy arrived overnight.
Trucks carrying blankets, food, medical supplies, and tents were organized by Arab tribes and arrived overnight in the insurgent-held rebel northwest from a territory controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
“The situation is really tragic,” Abdulrahman Mohammad, a displaced Syrian originally from the neighboring province of Aleppo, said in Idlib, where many have sought safety from other war-torn districts during the last decade.
According to the United Nations and government officials, the provinces of Idlib and nearby Aleppo held by Turkey-backed rebels suffered the majority of the quake’s casualties in Syria: over 4,400 of a total death toll of more than 5,800.
Some people had lucky escapes.
Um Kanan described waking her three children and rushing them to a small closet in her bedroom for shelter in Syria’s Mediterranean town of Jableh.
The quake’s intensity threw their fourth-floor apartment to the ground, yet all four survived.
“I kept thinking to myself: ‘Can it be? Did the building just fall down? Is this a dream?’ I tried to move but I couldn’t,” she said. “The children and I, by some miracle, ended up in this small space that I had left empty.”
Blinken to vow quake support on his first visit to Turkey
Antony Blinken will visit Turkey on Sunday to discuss relief efforts. Blinken...