A tragic photograph from a Turkish city devastated by an earthquake shows a distraught father holding the hand of his dead daughter lying beneath the debris of a torn-down apartment building. Turkey was struck by three major earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.7 and 7.0 on Monday followed by a magnitude 5.7 earthquake on Tuesday in the space of 24 hours, killing at least 8,000 people in the aftermath. Rescue operations are now working intensively to help those trapped under the rubble.
Since Monday, videos and photos have emerged of rescuers digging with their bare hands for survivors, with some children being rescued. While rescuers are racing against the clock to save as many victims as possible, some have already died.
Dad Mesut Hancer was spotted holding the hand of his 15-year-old daughter in the city of Kahramanmaras, near the epicenter of the earthquake. The photo shows his daughter lying lifeless on a bed that is stuck in the debris and cannot be removed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the death toll could hit 20,000 and warned 23 million people – including 1.4 million children – could be affected.
Turkey’s vice president, Fuat Oktay, told reporters that 8,000 people had been pulled from under the rubble, with 20,000 people taking part in the rescue efforts. He also said on Tuesday that 3,419 people had been killed, with a further 20,534 injured.
Unicef warns thousands of children may have died in Turkey and Syria. Turkey’s disaster management agency said it had 11,342 reports of collapsed buildings, of which 5,775 had been confirmed.
“The images we’re seeing out of Syria and Turkey are heart-wrenching,” said Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell. “That the initial earthquake happened so early in the morning, when many children were fast asleep, made it even more dangerous, and the aftershocks bring continuing risks. Our hearts and thoughts are with the children and families affected, especially those who have lost loved ones those or who have been injured.
“Our immediate priority is to ensure children and families affected receive the support they so desperately need.”
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Other children have been successfully rescued by the White Helmet humanitarian organization which reported saving a girl who had been trapped for more than 40 hours.
In a tweet, the organization said: “Once again, another miracle….. a child rescued after more than 40 hours of being trapped under the rubble of her house in the city of #Salqin in the countryside of #Idlib, #Syria yesterday , February 7. #SyriaEarthquake #earthquake.”
Nations from around the world, including Britain and the United States, have been pouring aid materials and rescue teams into the region.
“It is now a race against time,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide essential health care for the injured and most vulnerable.”
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