Earthquake disaster: Over 40,000 dead in Turkey alone - mourning for footballers

Twelve days after the devastating earthquakes, rescuers are still pulling bodies from under the rubble in Turkey and Syria.

Earthquake disaster: Over 40,000 dead in Turkey alone - mourning for footballers

Twelve days after the devastating earthquakes, rescuers are still pulling bodies from under the rubble in Turkey and Syria. The number of people killed by the earthquake in Turkey has now risen to 40,642. This was announced by the head of the Turkish civil protection authority Afad, Yunus Sezer, on Saturday, according to the state news agency Anadolu.

In Syria, around 5,900 people have died in connection with the devastating earthquakes. However, the number is only updated irregularly. In total, more than 46,000 people lost their lives in both countries.

Despite reports to the contrary in the meantime, the missing professional soccer player Christian Atsu was also found dead on Saturday. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Christian Atsu," the Turkish Football Association wrote on Twitter on Saturday. The Ghanaian died under a high-rise building in the Hatay province, which was particularly badly hit by the tremors.

Turkish media had meanwhile reported that the footballer had been rescued. According to his club Hatayspor, he should now be brought to his home country of Ghana and buried there. The football professional once played for FC Porto and became champion and Portuguese Super Cup winner with the club.

Helpers are still recovering buried people alive

Meanwhile, the reports of rescues from Turkey are still not coming to an end. Helpers are said to have rescued three people, including a child, from the rubble of a collapsed house in Antakya. They were buried for 296 hours, reported the state broadcaster TRT. The report could not be independently verified.

However, the 12-year-old child did not survive despite medical treatment, the state news agency Anadolu said. According to the information, the three people were a man, a woman and their child. A video showed how the helpers brought the man and the woman to an ambulance on a stretcher and medics treated the child.

After his rescue, the surviving father was visited in the hospital by the well-known American TV doctor Mehmet Oz, Anadolu reported. Pictures showed Oz, a cardiologist of Turkish origin, standing at the man's bedside and listening to him attentively. The man said he drank his own urine to survive, according to Anadolu. Two more of his children died under the rubble.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor's office continues to investigate possible culprits for the collapsed buildings in the earthquake region. According to Anadolu, a total of 400 people are suspected of being partly responsible for the collapse of the buildings due to possible construction defects. 120 people were arrested, it said.

According to the Turkish civil protection agency Afad, more than 40,000 rescuers from home and abroad are still on duty to rescue people who have been buried.

As the Turkish Minister of Forestry Vahit Kirisci announced on the state broadcaster TRT on Saturday, the affected area in Turkey alone covers an area of ​​103,000 square kilometers and has a population of 13.5 million people, which corresponds to around 17 percent of Turkey's total population.

Scholz: "Humanly connected"

In Germany, the dismay about the earthquake disaster is still great. Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured the victims in Turkey and Syria of Germany's solidarity. "We cannot undo the catastrophe. But we can help in times of need. And Germany is helping," said the SPD politician in a video message with Turkish and Arabic subtitles. "As friends we share your pain and as friends we will not leave you alone in times of need."

He also thanked all helpers from Germany. "In a very short time you have built a bridge of compassion, a bridge of solidarity between our countries, which are so closely linked as human beings." Around three million citizens of Germany came from Turkey, including from the heavily devastated provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep. Many more have roots in Syria.

Some aids are criticized

However, some aid that is now arriving in the earthquake area is also controversial: deliveries from the Lebanese Hezbollah, for example. According to the Shiite militia, they wanted to send 29 trucks with blankets, heaters and powdered milk to Aleppo on Saturday. Hezbollah fighters have been instrumental in keeping the Syrian government in power during the Syrian war.

Syria's opposition is critical of the militia's help. He assumes that Hezbollah will use the moment to smuggle more fighters, weapons and drugs into the crisis-ridden neighboring country, said the spokesman for an opposition alliance at the dpa. Hezbollah tries to profit from the plight of the people. Leaders of the militia have long been involved in the lucrative drug trade in Syria and, according to experts, make a lot of money from it, as does the Syrian government.

Attacks by the terrorist militia IS

IS is also using the earthquake to its advantage: while the public is distracted, the terrorist organization is carrying out serious attacks in Syria. IS assassins first attacked a government checkpoint in Al-Suchna in eastern Syria on Friday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Finally, they are said to have "randomly" shot machine guns at civilians who were looking for truffles in a field. At least 68 people died, according to the information.

A few days earlier, IS extremists had kidnapped around 75 truffle collectors in the region and killed 16 of them. According to the activists, dozens of people are still missing.

A 7.7 magnitude tremor shook southeast Turkey 12 days ago, followed hours later by a second severe 7.6 magnitude quake. The number of confirmed deaths in Turkey and Syria is still rising - more than 45,000 deaths have been counted so far. Tens of thousands were also injured, millions are affected by the effects of the violent tremors.