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Fading Sparks of Hope for Turkey Earthquake Victims as Public Demands Answers

Victor Westerkamp
Victor resides in the Netherlands and writes about freedom and governmental and social changes to the democratic form of nations.
Published: February 17, 2023
A 17-year-old girl is rescued from the rubble on Feb. 16, after being trapped for more than ten days (248 hours) after the devastating earthquake in south-eastern Turkey of Feb. 6. (Image: Video still/Sakarya Municipality/2023 Thomson Reuters)

A teenage girl was among the few newest survivors pulled out from the rubble in Turkey on Thursday (Feb. 16), more than 10 days after a devastating earthquake hit the region, but such rescues have become increasingly rare.

One 17-year-old girl was surrounded by rescuers in a video published by Sakarya municipality before being wrapped in a gold-foiled thermal blanket and taken away on a stretcher while an emergency worker held an intravenous drip aloft.

She was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed apartment complex a stunning 248 hours after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in the middle of the night on Feb. 6 in the Kahramanmaras region of southeast Turkey, broadcaster TRT Haber reported.

As of Feb. 16, at least 41,000 people were confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria, according to authorities in the two countries. In Turkey, the death toll was 36,187, making the earthquake the worst in the country’s recent history.  


Around 5,800 people died in Syria, where the earthquake has exacerbated a humanitarian situation brought on by a 12-year conflict. Hence, not many more victims are expected to be discovered alive beneath the debris in the days to come.

According to the Syrian government, 1,414 people have died in the areas under its control. In the rebel-held northwest, more than 4,000 people have died, but rescuers say no one has been recovered alive there since Feb. 9.

Two days after announcing a US$400 million donation plea for Syrians affected by the earthquake, the U.N. on Thursday made a request for more than $1 billion in funding for the Turkish rescue mission.

Public outrage

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, who visited Turkey last week, said the people have “experienced unspeakable heartache,” adding: “We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.”

However, the international aid gained steam very slowly, if at all, with the first relief convoy to reach the affected areas in Turkey only after 3.5 days — a term just long enough to make a person stuck in the rubbish perish of dehydration.

Still, several people were found alive in Turkey on Wednesday (Feb. 15), but the number of rescues has dwindled significantly. Neither Turkey nor Syria has said how many people are still missing.

For families still waiting to retrieve their lost relatives, there is growing anger over what they see as corrupt building practices and deeply flawed urban development that resulted in thousands of homes and businesses disintegrating.

“I have two children. No others. They are both under this rubble,” said Sevil Karaabdüloğlu as excavators tore down what remained of a high-end block of flats in the southern city of Antakya, where her two daughters had lived.

Around 650 people are believed to have died when the Renaissance Residence building collapsed in the quake.

“We rented this place as an elite place, a safe place. How do I know that the contractor built it this way? … Everyone is looking to make a profit. They’re all guilty,” she said.

Turkey has promised to investigate anyone suspected of responsibility for the collapse of buildings and has ordered the detention of more than 100 suspects, including developers.

Reuters contributed to this report