'Keep Praying': Survivors Still Being Found in Quake Rubble, Operation Blessing Relief Effort Underway
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ISKENDERUN, Turkey – Rescuers are still finding some survivors amid the rubble, more than a week after those catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. It's the worst natural disaster in Turkey's history with at least 35,500 now known to be dead. Nearly 32,000 of those people died in Turkey with at least 3,500 more in Syria.
Even as the death toll still mounts, millions of people face the challenge of putting their lives back together as thoughts are turning toward the enormous recovery effort. The devastation of destroyed buildings, homes, and businesses stretches nearly 300 miles.
The destruction zone in Turkey after those two massive earthquakes and dozens of aftershocks is stunning in its magnitude. As a comparison, it is the same size as the area north of New York City all the way to the south of Washington D.C., including New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and part of Pennsylvania.
Turkey faces a massive rebuilding challenge. Millions of Turkish citizens are suffering from post-traumatic stress from their harrowing and traumatic experiences.
Abdulkerim Arserim is one of them. He told CBN News, "The ground floor of our building was gone. They threw a rope. I tied my children and they went down. Then my wife. Then me. Of course, there were no socks, no shoes. Then the building collapsed… We didn't believe we would be rescued. We thought death had come at that moment."
Even as the death toll mounts, tens of thousands more are injured and left homeless. The needs are vast.
To help provide material support and hope to the Turkish people, CBN's Operation Blessing mobilized within hours of the earthquake and recruited volunteers to help with the task.
Volunteer Carin Cochrane said, "As soon as the earthquake happened I was like, I gotta get on the ground and help in any way I can. So I got connected with Operation Blessing... and here we are. This is just incredible. I was just thinking we have almost 10 nations represented here. We have Ukraine and Belarus and uh, Brazilians, so it's really amazing, and just to be able to be a part of bringing any aid to the Turkish people in this time."
CLICK HERE to Help Operation Blessing Provide Relief Effort in Turkey
Diego Traverso, Operation Blessing's international director of disaster relief, says the ministry is rushing to meet needs as quickly as possible.
"We want to be in the center of the action where the people need it, where, not only the people that are suffering… Keep praying for us, keep praying for the victims, keep praying for our volunteers, for our teams we're deploying right now. Our experts are gonna be arriving in the next couple hours, water engineer, doctor, health team… the health is so needed."
#Turkey looks like a war zone. Since the #earthquake, thousands of buildings are lying in ruins. Tens of thousands of people have died, and those who remain are suffering terribly. They need help and hope. YOU can be the blessing today. https://t.co/AW9UvLBN9x. pic.twitter.com/tFRdeeILP1— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) February 14, 2023
Meanwhile, a handful of stunning rescues have taken place in the last day, long after rescues are typically possible.
More than 200 hours after the quake struck, a teacher named Emine Akgul was just pulled from an apartment building in Antakya.
In Adiyaman province, rescuers reached 18-year-old Muhammed Cafer Cetin, and medics gave him an IV with fluids before attempting a dangerous extraction from a building that crumbled further as rescuers were working.
Two others were rescued from a destroyed building in central Kahramanmaras, near the epicenter. Dozens of rescuers hugged and clapped after the victims were pulled from the rubble and carried to an ambulance.
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