Disaster: More than 42,000 earthquake deaths - Turkish attacks in Syria

Ten days after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, emergency services are still recovering many bodies from the rubble.

Disaster: More than 42,000 earthquake deaths - Turkish attacks in Syria

Ten days after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, emergency services are still recovering many bodies from the rubble. More than 42,000 deaths have been counted in both countries so far. The Turkish disaster service Afad reported on Thursday that 36,187 people had been killed by the tremors. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported 5,900 deaths from Syria.

According to Afad, there were more than 4,300 aftershocks, some of them in Syria on Thursday. Despite the dire situation, Turkish forces continued to attack targets in Syria, activists said.

The Turkish government increased the number of provinces affected by the earthquake disaster from ten to eleven. On the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the eastern Turkish province of Elazig is now officially a disaster area.

A fairly powerful aftershock hit the Syrian province of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast. People ran in panic from their homes into the streets. At least one building collapsed, as a dpa reporter reported on site. According to the National Earthquake Center, the aftershock had a magnitude of 4.7.

Heavy attacks on northern Syria

According to activists, Turkish forces bombed Tal Rifat in northern Syria, which was badly hit by the tremors. A 70-year-old civilian was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tal Rifat is controlled partly by Kurdish militias and partly by Syrian government forces. According to the activists, there is already chaos in the city near the border. Turkey occupies areas in northern Syria and has been taking action against Kurdish militias there for a long time. One person died in a Turkish drone attack in Kobane on Sunday.

Spectacular reports about late rescues of buried people are still going around the world. In the Turkish city of Antakya, firefighters from Istanbul freed a 13-year-old victim after 228 hours. A video shows the boy being taken out of the rubble on a stretcher. The information could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, many people are sharing wanted ads on social media hoping to find their loved ones in hospitals. More than 13,000 people injured in the quake are still being treated in hospitals, but some cannot be identified, as a hospital worker in Adana told dpa. In many places, the infrastructure for health care was severely damaged.

US Secretary of State plans trip to Turkey

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also wants to visit Turkey during his trip to Europe on February 19 to inspect the relief efforts after the severe earthquake. Blinken will then meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, the US State Department said. The USA has pledged the equivalent of almost 80 million euros for earthquake aid in Turkey and Syria.

More aid arrived in Syria on Thursday, including from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Support also came from unexpected quarters: children from the Syrian city of Raqqa donated their pocket money for their peers in the earthquake area. Activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video showing the young workers also holding signs with greetings for the camera. "What hit you, hit us too," reads about it.

The lack of prospects is growing in Syria

From the point of view of the Red Cross, the earthquake catastrophe robbed those affected in Syria of their last strength. "She really broke the back of the Syrian people," said the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Jagan Chapagain. After years of civil war, it was a "crisis after a crisis".

According to the aid organization Doctors Without Borders, the aid currently being provided cannot cover the enormous needs of the population. The earthquakes completely destroyed more than 1,700 buildings in Syria and partially destroyed more than 5,700. The organization also anticipates a significantly increased need for psychosocial counseling after the earthquake disaster. The suicide rate has already "increased in recent years due to the precarious living conditions and the lack of prospects." The organization also warned of cholera outbreaks due to the lack of clean water.

Meanwhile, Arab media reported that more and more Syrians are leaving Turkey after the earthquake. Almost 1800 people have returned to their homeland. A total of around 3.6 million people had fled from bombs and violence to the neighboring country in recent years. After the earthquake, however, many want to be with their families again, although the danger of war is far from over.

Criticism of planned visa facilitation

In Germany, too, the dismay after the disaster is great. The federal government is planning visa facilitation for earthquake victims from Turkey. However, critics complain that for the three-month visa for admission to relatives in Germany, for example, a valid passport and a biometric photo are required. In view of the destruction in the affected areas, this is often not possible. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser rejected the criticism. "We can hardly do more relief at this point," she told the "hessenschau extra" on Hessischer Rundfunk. However, improvements will be made if necessary, for example with the staff of the immigration offices.

Early Monday morning a week ago, a first earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 shook southeast Turkey at 2.17 a.m. (CET), followed hours later by a second severe earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6.