Death toll climbs to 33,000 people in Turkey-Syria earthquake
(CNN) — More than 33,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Monday, as hopes of rescuing more survivors dwindle amid freezing conditions.
The latest figures show that 33,181 have died across both countries.
The death toll in Turkey has climbed to 29,605, Turkish Emergency Coordination Center SAKOM said Sunday.
In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,576, including 2,168 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the “White Helmets” civil defense group, and 1,408 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media citing the health ministry on Saturday.
The White Helmets, who announced the end of their search and rescue operations on Friday, told CNN on Saturday that the total number of dead was expected to rise much higher.
On Sunday, a 10-year-old girl named Cudi was rescued after spending 147 hours trapped under rubble in southern Turkey’s Hatay province.
In the same region, a 35-year-old survivor identified as Mustafa Sarıgül was freed from the ruins of a six-story apartment building after 149 hours.
However, reports of these incredible rescues have slowed as the hours tick by since the quake.
Concerns over security have also hampered some international search efforts.
German rescue operations in Turkey, which were halted on Saturday due to security concerns, “in general” remain suspended for these reasons, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) told CNN on Sunday.
Israeli search-and-rescue group United Hatzalah also announced Sunday that it was leaving Turkey after six days on the ground due to a “significant security threat.”
United Hatzalah chief executive Eli Pollack and vice president of operations Dov Maisel said in a statement they had “received intelligence of a concrete and immediate threat on the Israeli delegation and we have to put the security of our personnel first.”
“We knew that there was a certain level of risk in sending our team to this area of Turkey, which is close to the Syrian border but we took the necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our lifesaving mission,” Maisel said.
Some international rescue efforts have resumed, however.
The Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU) said a rescue dog handler was again helping Turkish rescue workers, with Turkish forces providing security in the search areas.
Operations were suspended early on Saturday due to an “increasingly difficult security situation,” AFDRU said in a statement, adding there was “increasing aggression between groups in Turkey.” Later in the day, Austrian Army spokesman Michael Bauer said on Twitter that teams had resumed operations.
Since Tuesday, 82 AFDRU soldiers have been deployed; they are scheduled to leave on Thursday.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said Sunday that it was the first group to send a team to provide mental health support to earthquake victims in Syrian shelters.
“Among the tens of thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, hundreds of children are languishing in hospitals and shelters without their families and homes,” read a statement issued by the group.
“Difficult times have been experienced by children since the earthquake. Some of them miraculously escaped death, but after their physical survival, psychological support teams of the Palestinian Red Crescent are working for their psychological survival,” the statement continued.
The group’s Psychosocial Support Team arranged events and activities for those in the shelters, including games for children.
The team of Palestinians along with local volunteers is also providing mental health services to about 300 children and their families in shelters and hospitals, who are suffering from severe trauma and depression as a result of the earthquake.
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