Deadly earthquake: new toll, several children saved five days later, concession from Damascus on aid to rebel areas

Deadly earthquake: new toll, several children saved five days later, Damascus concession on aid to rebel areas


Several children were rescued from the rubble on Friday in Turkey and Syria, five days after the earthquake that killed nearly 23,000 people, leading the Damascus regime to accept the sending of international aid to the rebel-held areas from regions it controls.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the same day for “an immediate ceasefire” in Syria to facilitate support for the affected populations there. 

Because if humanitarian aid is pouring in from abroad in Turkey – Germany notably announced on Friday that it was sending 90 tonnes of material by plane – access to Syria at war, whose regime is under international sanctions , turns out to be more complicated.

Currently, almost all of the goods supplied in this context to the rebel areas transit, in dribs and drabs, from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa crossing point, the only one currently guaranteed by the United Nations.


“The Council of Ministers has accepted the delivery of humanitarian aid to the whole” of Syrian territory, “including areas outside the control of the State”, announced the Syrian government.

< p>He specified that their distribution should be “supervised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent”, with the support of the UN.

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The World Food Program (WFP), a specialized agency of the United Nations, has requested $77 million to provide food for 874,000 people affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

De On either side of the border, thousands of homes are destroyed and rescuers are stepping up their efforts to search for survivors, even as the crucial first 72-hour window to find survivors has closed.

Yet on Friday, a six-year-old boy, Moussa Hmeidi, was pulled out alive, albeit in shock and injured in the face, amid cheers from the rubble in a northwestern Syrian town of Jandairis, noted an AFP journalist.

In southern Turkey, in Antakya, “in the 105th hour” after the earthquake, rescuers pulled out alive an 18-month-old infant, Yusuf Huseyin, debris from a building, then, twenty minutes later, his brother Muhammed Huseyin, told the NTV television channel.

Two hours earlier, Zeynep Ela Parlak, a three-year-old girl, had already been rescued in this town devastated by the earthquake.

The situation, aggravated by freezing cold, is such that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in armed struggle against the Turkish army since 1984, decided on Friday “not to carry out any operation as long as the Turkish state does not not attack”, underlined Cemil Bayik, an official quoted by the Firat agency, close to the PKK. “Thousands of our people are still under the rubble. (…) Everyone must mobilize all their means.”

Many survivors criticize the slowness of the government's reaction. “I didn't see anyone before 2 p.m. on the second day of the earthquake,” 34 hours after the first tremor, accuses Mehmet Yildirim. “No state, no police, no soldiers. Shame on you ! You left us on our own!”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sketched out a form of mea culpa on Friday. “The destruction affected so many buildings (…) that, unfortunately, we were not able to carry out our interventions as quickly as hoped”, he admitted during a visit to Adiyaman, a very southern city. affected by the disaster.

In Cyprus, the first bodies of Turkish Cypriot victims excavated from the rubble after the earthquake in Turkey have been repatriated to the island on Friday, including those of seven teenage volleyball players who were taking part in a tournament.

The hotel in which the group (24 young people aged 11 to 14, four of their teachers, a trainer and 10 of their parents) were staying in Adiyaman has completely collapsed. “The bodies of 19 young people (of the group) were discovered under the rubble,” said NTV.

According to the latest official reports, the earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8 , followed by a hundred tremors, killed at least 22,765 people: 19,388 in Turkey and 3,377 (unchanged since Thursday) in Syria.

The WHO estimates that 23 million people are “potentially exposed , including about five million vulnerable people” and fears a major health crisis that would cause more damage than the earthquake.

Humanitarian organizations are particularly concerned about the spread of cholera, which has reappeared in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma visited Friday the bedside of earthquake victims in Aleppo, for the first time since the disaster, according to the presidency.