Turkish rescuers find 2 survivors 12 days after quake

A joint rescue group from China Search and Rescue Team and a search and rescue team from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) carry out rescue operation among earthquake debris in Antakya, southern province of Hatay, Türkiye, Feb. 14, 2023. (Xinhua/Shadati)

Turkish rescuers pulled out three people alive from rubble early Saturday, 12 days after a devastating earthquake that has claimed more than 40,000 lives in southern Türkiye, but the child later died, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported.

The man, his wife, and their child had spent 296 hours under the rubble of an apartment block in Antakya, the capital of the southern Turkish province of Hatay, before their rescue. The two adults were taken to the hospital, but the 12-year-old died despite on-scene intervention.

The bodies of two other quake victims were also recovered during the international rescue mission, said the report, citing Rysbek Coldoshbayev, captain of the search and rescue team of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian footballer was also found dead under apartment debris in southern Hatay, his manager Murat Uzunmehmet told DHA news agency on Saturday.

People rest by earthquake debris in Antakya in the southern province of Hatay, Türkiye, Feb. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Shadati)

The former Chelsea and Newcastle winger scored his last goal for Hatayspor in Türkiye's Super Lig on Feb. 5, hours before the massive quakes.

Only a handful number of people were pulled out alive from the rubble in the past few days and the Turkish authorities announced that they would complete the rescue operations soon and focus on relief work.

The death toll from two major earthquakes that struck southeastern Türkiye on Feb. 6 has risen to 40,642, the country's disaster agency said Saturday.

The figure is likely to increase further as search teams pull out more bodies. Still, 21,859 people are under medical treatment in the hospitals, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Saturday.

Search and rescue efforts will be "largely completed" by Sunday evening, Yunus Sezer, head of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, told a press conference.

The emergency work was concentrated in Hatay Province which was hit hardest in the quakes, Sezer said, adding the disaster agency had nearly 13,000 personnel working in the area.

Excavators are seen in rescue operation on earthquake debris in Antakya in the southern province of Hatay, Türkiye, Feb. 12, 2023. (Xinhua/Shadati)

A total of 430,000 people were evacuated from the earthquake area, Sezer said.

Turkish authorities have set up more than 172,000 tents for quake survivors and work is underway to provide more than 200,000 others, while nearly 6,000 containers were provided for their accommodation.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Türkiye will receive 222,000 tents, 120,000 of them promised by other countries or international organizations.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay called on property owners to allow free accommodation or rental of vacant property through the "Let my home be your home" website, a state-run campaign that will match quake survivors and donators.

The houses registered in the system will be made available to the quake survivor families for a certain time through district governorships, he said, adding in case of trouble at home, the insurance system will come into play.

On Feb. 6, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck Türkiye's southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT), followed by a magnitude-7.6 one at 1:24 p.m. local time (1024 GMT) in the province.