Baby rescued from rubble 68 hours after earthquake hit Türkiye, Syria
Emergency workers from Istanbul Municipality rescued a baby from the rubble of a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Hatay on Wednesday (February 8), nearly 68 hours after a major earthquake struck southern Türkiye and northern Syria.
Rescuers reported that the baby, named Helen, was in good health and put under supervision by medical units.
More than 17,000 people are known to have died in Türkiye and Syria, after a 7.8-magnitude quake struck as people slept early Monday in a region where many people had already suffered loss and displacement due to Syria's civil war.
In Türkiye's Adiyaman province, another search and rescue team found four members of the same family alive under the wreckage in the late hours of Wednesday.
Bitter cold has hampered the four-day search of thousands of flattened buildings and the 72-hour mark that experts consider the most likely period to save lives has passed.
An official at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing told AFP that an aid convoy reached rebel-held northwestern Syria Thursday, the first since the earthquake that has left survivors sleeping outdoors due to aftershock risks.
A decade of civil war and Syrian-Russian aerial bombardment had already destroyed hospitals, collapsed the economy and prompted electricity, fuel and water shortages.
'Very serious difficulties'
The earthquake was the biggest natural disaster to strike the region since 1999, when a similarly powerful quake killed more than 17,000 people in Türkiye.
A Turkish official said the disaster posed "very serious difficulties" for the holding of an election scheduled for May 14, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to face the toughest challenge in his two decades in power.
With anger simmering over the slow delivery of aid and delays in getting the rescue effort underway, the disaster is bound to play into the vote should it still go ahead.
On the ground, many people in Türkiye and Syria spent a third night sleeping outside or in cars in freezing winter temperatures, their homes destroyed or so shaken by the quakes they were too afraid to re-enter.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless in the middle of winter. Many have camped out in makeshift shelters in supermarket car parks, mosques, roadsides or amid the ruins, often desperate for food, water and heat.
The death toll in Türkiye rose to 14,014 by Thursday morning. In Syria, more than 3,000 people have died, according to the government and a rescue service in the rebel-held northwest.
Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 kilometers from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east. In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, 250 kilometers from the epicenter.