Miracle rescues as Turkey-Syria quake deaths cross 28,000

KAHRAMANMARAS, Turkey – Rescuers pulled a two-month-old baby and an elderly woman from the rubble on Saturday, five days after an earthquake devastated Turkey and Syria leaving more than 28,000 dead.

But security concerns led some aid operations to be suspended, and 48 people have been arrested for looting or trying to defraud victims in the aftermath of the quake in Turkey, state media reported.

Tens of thousands of rescue workers are still scouring through flattened neighbourhoods despite freezing weather that has deepened the misery of millions now in desperate need of aid.

In the midst of destruction and despair, miraculous tales of survival continue to emerge.

“Is the world there?” asked 70-year-old Menekse Tabak as she was pulled out from the concrete in the southern city of Kahramanmaras – the epicentre of Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor – to applause and cries praising God, according to a video on state broadcaster TRT Haber.

In the city of Antakya, a two-month-old baby was found alive 128 hours after the quake, state news agency Anadolu reported.

A two-year-old girl, a six-month pregnant woman, and a four-year-old and her father were among those rescued five days after the quake, Turkish media reported.

In southern Turkey, families clutched each other in grief at a cotton field transformed into a cemetery, with an endless stream of bodies arriving for swift burial.

26 million people affected

Compounding the anguish, the United Nations has warned that at least 870,000 people urgently need hot meals across Turkey and Syria. In Syria alone, up to 5.3 million people may have been made homeless.

Almost 26 million people have been affected by the earthquake, the World Health Organization (WHO) said as it launched a flash appeal on Saturday for $42.8 million to cope with immediate, towering health needs.

It warned that dozens of hospitals had been damaged.

Turkey’s disaster agency said over 32,000 people from Turkish organisations are working on search and rescue efforts. In addition, there are 8,294 international rescuers.

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