Time is running out for people believed to be still trapped in collapsed buildings after Sunday’s deadly earthquake in southeastern Turkey. The number of dead is more than 400, but that is expected to rise after a second night of freezing temperatures.
More and more rescue teams are reaching the quake-stricken area in southeastern Turkey, as efforts are intensifying to find survivors buried in the rubble of the thousands of collapsed buildings.
With a second night of freezing conditions, it is a race against time.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, five people were dug out of their collapsed apartment building. Later, a two-week-old baby, her mother and grandmother were also rescued from the rubble of their home.
But hundreds still remain unaccounted for.
Many of the region’s remote villages still have not been reached, with access to numerous roads cut off. Those that have been reached have been devastated, with the traditional houses made of mud and clay offering little protection to the powerful 7.2 quake.
The magnitude of the disaster is leading to increased scrutiny over the government’s refusal to accept almost all offers of international help, including from Israel where there are current tense bilateral relations.
But Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc claimed Turkey’s refusal of help is not politically motivated.
He says such a claim is horrendous. He says that while Turkey may not be on the best of terms with Israel, to respond negatively to such a humane offer from the Israeli government in the wake of such a disaster because of separate agendas would have been wrong and inappropriate. The deputy prime minister says it is completely untrue that Turkey refused Israel’s help for that reason.
Nearly 90 countries have offered assistance, but Turkey has only accepted help from Iran and Azerbaijan, which border the area affected by the quake.
The government claims it can deal with the crisis. But with the approach of winter, and snow predicted later this week, pressure is building to accept assistance.
The region is one of the poorest in Turkey, with many people having lost what little they had. Although tent cities and field hospitals have been set up, criticism has been growing that more needs to be done.