With the cold comes death
Den rescue teams are running out of time. Even under normal weather conditions, there is only a realistic chance of rescuing victims alive from the rubble in the 72 hours following an earthquake. However, snowstorms are sweeping the disaster region, and temperatures are below freezing. Local Turkish television stations are increasingly reporting victims who could only be recovered frozen to death. A harrowing image is circulating on social media of a father sitting on the rubble of his home in Kahramanmaras, holding his dead daughter’s hand, which he can grasp between the collapsed slabs. First she was alive, then she froze to death. With the cold, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that anyone living beneath the rubble would be using their cellphones to call attention to themselves. Because the batteries discharge quickly in the cold.
What was only hinted at on Monday became a certainty in the days after the devastating earthquake and the now more than 100 aftershocks, some of them strong: This catastrophe surpasses all other earthquakes in recent history in its dimensions. The Turkish geologist and earthquake researcher Övgün Ahmet Ercan wrote on Tuesday that alone in the Turkey 13.5 million people are affected who live or have lived in four million buildings. In the city centers, these houses are often ten stories high. Ercan estimates that almost 200,000 people were still under the rubble on Tuesday. At the time he sent his message, only 8,000 people had been rescued. Only every twentieth of the buildings officially reported as damaged or destroyed are searched by rescue teams.