Twelve days after the devastating earthquakes, rescuers are still pulling bodies from under the rubble in Turkey and Syria. 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. The Ghanaian died under a high-rise building in the city of Hatay, which was particularly hard 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.
Rescue after 296 hours
Meanwhile, the reports of rescues from Turkey are still not coming to an end. Helpers are said to have freed 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.
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.
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."
Scholz: "close human connection"
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.
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.
The 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.
IS extremists kidnapped truffle collectors
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 people killed by the earthquake in Turkey has 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.