Excavators start removing debris in Turkish region hit by earthquake

HATAY PROVINCE – Excavators began removing debris from an urban area in Turkey's southern Hatay province that was devastated by last week's massive earthquake, drone footage showed on Monday, as the operation to find survivors started drawing to a close.

Several large hydraulic excavators, near the city of Antakya, scraped at piles of masonry or knocked down the tops of teetering concrete buildings, footage showed, with clouds of dust rising from the rubble as slabs of concrete fell.

Workers in high-visibility jackets dotted the desolate expanse of what was once a residential area, while a few clusters of onlookers watched from a safe distance.

Some onlookers sat on broken sofas and armchairs from buildings that were opened up by Monday's huge quake, which shattered a swathe of southern Turkey and northwest Syria. The combined death toll now exceeds 37,000.

In Syria, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday the rescue phase after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake was “coming to a close” and the focus was shifting to shelter, food and schooling for the survivors.

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