Survivors scream as desperate rescuers work in Turkey and Syria

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Rescue workers and civilians shoved chunks of concrete and household items through mountains of wreckage early Monday, moving tons of wreckage by hand in a desperate search for survivors trapped by a devastating earthquake.

“Can anyone hear me?” cried rescuers trying to find people in Kahramanmaras province, the epicenter. In some places around Turkey, survivors could be heard screaming under collapsed buildings.

Many people crouched down to look under a huge cement slab supported at an angle by steel bars. They crawled in and out, trying to reach the survivors. Excavation equipment dug in the rubble below.

Rescue efforts unfolded as darkness, rain and cold enveloped the region of Turkey and Syria devastated by a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and at least one that struck within hours later. At least 2,500 people have been killed and civilians have joined rescuers in desperate efforts across Turkey and Syria.

Elsewhere in Kahramanmaras province, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble. One of them was lying on a stretcher on the snowy ground. They quieted the crowd of people trying to help in the effort to find survivors.

In Adana, about 20 people, some wearing emergency life jackets, used power saws atop the cement mountain of a collapsed building to create a space that would allow survivors to exit or be helped. Later, excavators joined the effort as bright searchlights illuminated the wreckage.

Thousands of search and rescue personnel, firefighters and doctors worked in 10 provinces, along with some 3,500 troops. Residents lifted rubble and dug up people heard screaming under buildings.

Turkish military ambulance jets were transporting the injured to hospitals in Istanbul and Ankara, the defense ministry said. Rescuers from across Turkey attempted to reach the provinces amid heavy snowfall and torrential rain. But many in Antakya, Hatay, said they did not have enough assistance and were worried about miles of wreckage and those trapped there. Hatay Airport was badly damaged, complicating rescue efforts.

In Syria, a man held a dead girl in his arms next to a collapsed 2-story cement building as he walked away from the rubble. He and a woman laid the girl on the ground under a blanket to protect her from the winter rains, wrapping her in a large blanket and staring back at the building, overwhelmed.

An official from Turkey’s disaster management authority said 6,445 people had been rescued across 10 provinces. The official, Orhan Tatar, said 5,606 buildings had collapsed.


Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Chicago contributed.


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