With 5,000 Dead, Global Rescuers Race to Save Lives, Aid Millions of Victims in Turkey, Syria
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JERUSALEM, Israel – One day after the catastrophic 7.8 earthquake, a massive international rescue and aid effort is underway to help millions of Turkish and Syrian people, reeling from the worst natural disaster in nearly a century to hit the area.
The scenes are apocalyptic, as the quake toppled thousands of buildings in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, leaving millions without shelter in a region already plagued by political unrest and violence.
The death toll has topped 5,000, but it could soar into the tens of thousands, as millions of Turks and Syrians agonize over lost and missing loved ones.
Mahmoud Betri, a Syrian resident, said, "A whole family of my cousin, his wife, his daughter, and his son – all of them died. They were taken out from under the rubble after about 8 hours."
Many are now living in tents. A Turkish resident named Serkan explained that "My wife was terrified after the earthquakes, so we didn't want to go back home. Neither did my kids. Our family came here to stay in the shelter."
The pictures and videos on social media are heartwrenching. One scene is of a father and son who died together as the father protected the son.
In still another one, a baby was born and then its mother reportedly died.
The anguish of the devastated people has touched a global chord. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, "I think all of the world's thoughts and condolences are with the people of this region who are suffering at this time."
Dozens of nations, including Mexico, Holland, India, Spain, and South Korea, have begun a massive aid effort to bring needed food, shelter, and medical supplies, as well as search and rescue teams to help people dig out. USA Team 2 from Los Angeles is one of them.
Anthony Marrone, chief of the L.A. County Fire Department, said, "So these men and women and these dogs of the L.A. County Fire Department are really going to go place themselves in harm's way to save lives, to dig people out and to help with the recovery. So it's going to be a very dangerous mission. They're prepared. They're trained."
As one of the nearest neighbors, Israel is sending aid, including an Israel Defense Forces team called Olive Branches. They flew out Monday night.
Operation Blessing is also deploying its International Disaster Relief team to Turkey to aid in the relief efforts following the deadly earthquake.
#OperationBlessing is deploying its International #DisasterRelief team to #Turkey to aid in the relief efforts following the deadly #earthquake. Please keep our disaster relief team in your prayers! https://t.co/kdUwt0uZpK— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) February 7, 2023
The team will be distributing emergency relief supplies including portable solar lanterns, which are invaluable at night in disaster zones when the electricity is out. The Operation Blessing team will meet with local officials shortly to determine the best response in the coming days and weeks.
Stay tuned for more information about Operation Blessing's Turkey response. CLICK HERE to donate to the relief efforts.
#OperationBlessing is deploying our international #disasterrelief team in response to a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude #earthquake that rocked #Turkey and #Syria early on February 6. Please visit this link to stay updated: https://t.co/AW9UvLBN9x.— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) February 7, 2023
PHOTO: @APNews and @CBNNews pic.twitter.com/ct01hW9lLP
Hundreds of volunteers, rescue workers, and members of non-governmental organizations also rushed to Istanbul Airport to join the effort, and that was noted by officials in Turkey. The cooperation has brought nations together.
"Turkey and Mexico have always been good strategic partners," said Ilhan Kemal Tug, Turkey's ambassador to Mexico." However, today, I think this partnership has increased to another level. The solidarity and support messages that we have received since this morning have been very good, and we appreciate very much all the support that has been given."
The global search and rescue workers come to bring hope, a truth that was not lost on Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Ewald, who said, "We serve as ambassadors for the people of L.A. County. We're able to go out and do what so many people wish they could do, and that is lend a hand. And so we bring the technical expertise, but we also bring that human side, and post-disaster, sometimes, one of the most important things is for the people to have hope.
The good news is that so far, nearly 8,000 people have been rescued from the devastation. Rescuers are racing against time to save many more.
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