By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Search teams and emergency aid from around the world poured into Turkey and Syria on Tuesday as rescuers working in freezing temperatures dug — sometimes with their bare hands — through the remains of buildings flattened by a powerful earthquake.
The death toll soared above 5300 and was still expected to rise.
But with the damage spread over a wide area, the massive relief operation often struggled to reach devastated towns, and voices that had been crying out from the rubble fell silent.
“We could hear their voices, they were calling for help,” said Ali Silo, whose two relatives could not be saved in the Turkish town of Nurdagi.
In the end, it was left to Silo, a Syrian who arrived from Hama a decade ago, and other residents to recover the bodies and those of two other victims.
Monday’s magnitude 7.8 quake and a cascade of strong aftershocks cut a swath of destruction that stretched hundreds of kilometres across southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, toppling thousands of buildings and heaping more misery on a region shaped by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis.
One temblor that followed the first registered at magnitude 7.5, powerful in its own right.
Unstable tangled piles of metal and concrete made the search efforts perilous, while freezing temperatures made them ever more urgent, as worries grew about how long those trapped could survive in the cold.