The death toll from Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has now risen beyond 30,000.
Six days after the disaster, thousands of survivors have been pulled from the piles of rubble that were once apartment buildings full of life.
It has now been confirmed that 29,605 people have died in Turkey, while another 3,553 have been killed in Syria.
Rescue efforts continue on both sides of the border, but resident believe valuable time has been lost during the narrow window for finding people alive beneath the wreckage. Others, particularly in the southern Hatay province near the Syrian border, say that Turkey’s government was late in delivering assistance to the hardest-hit region for what they suspect are both political and religious reasons.
In Adiyaman, Elif Busra Ozturk stood outside a flattened building yesterday where her uncle and aunt were trapped – believed dead.
The bodies of two of her cousins had already been discovered under the rubble.
For three days, I waited outside for help. No one came,’ she said.
‘There were so few rescue teams that they could only intervene in places they were sure there were people alive.’
At the same building complex, Abdullah Tas said he had been sleeping inside a car near the building where his son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren were buried.
He said that rescuers had first arrived four days after the earthquake struck.
‘What good is that for the people under the debris?’ he asked.
In the ancient city of Antakya, people watched as bulldozers clawed at a high-rise luxury apartment building that had toppled onto its side.
More than 1,000 residents had been inside when the earthquake struck, according to family members who were watching the recovery effort.
Hundreds were still inside, they said, but complained that the effort to free them had been slow and unserious.
‘This is an atrocity, I don’t know what to say,’ said Bediha Kanmaz whose son and seven-month-old grandson had already been pulled dead out of the building.
‘We open body bags to see if they’re ours, we are checking if they’re our children. We are even checking the ones that are torn to pieces.’
President Erdogan said on Wednesday post-disaster efforts were ongoing across the 10 provinces hit by the earthquake.
He called allegations of no help from state institutions like the military ‘lies, fake slander’.
In Syria, the disaster hit hardest in the rebel-held northwest, leaving thousands of people homeless for a second time after they were displaced by the civil war.
But the region has received little aid compared to government-held areas, and the disaster zones in neighbouring Turkey.
‘We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria,’ UN aid chief Martin Griffiths tweeted from the border, where only a single crossing is open for UN aid supplies.
‘They rightly feel abandoned,’ he said, adding that he was focused on addressing that swiftly