Rescuers race to find Türkiye-Syria quake survivors, toll tops 21,000

Türkiye and Syria were hit by the most powerful earthquake in years. It’s already claimed over 15,000 lives, with that number expected to rise. From Antakya in Turkey, Dasen Thathiah has more. #eNCA Courtesy #DStv403

ANKARA - Rescuers scoured debris in a desperate search for survivors on Friday four days after a massive earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria, killing nearly 22,000 people, as the United States offered an $85-million aid package.

The first UN aid deliveries arrived on Thursday in Syrian rebel-held zones, but chances of finding survivors have dimmed since the passing of the three-day mark that experts consider a critical period to save lives.

The US Agency for International Development said its aid package will go to partners on the ground "to deliver urgently needed aid for millions of people", including through food, shelter and emergency health services.

READ: Turkey-Syria quake toll nears 20,000 as hopes dim

It will also support safe drinking water and sanitation to prevent the outbreak of disease, USAID said in a statement.

Bitter cold hampered search efforts in both countries.

Temperatures in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, located near the epicentre of the quake, plunged to minus three degrees Celsius early on Friday.

Victims' relatives sit around a fire next to the rubble of a collapsed building in Adiyaman

Victims' relatives sit around a fire next to the rubble of a collapsed building in Adiyaman


Despite the cold, thousands of families had to spend the night in cars and makeshift tents -- too scared or banned from returning to their homes.

Top aid officials were planning to visit affected areas with World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths both announcing trips. 

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, travelled to strife-torn Aleppo, Syria.

READ: UN chief urges more Syria border aid points after quake

"Communities struggling after years of fierce fighting are now crippled by the earthquake," Spoljaric tweeted.  

"As this tragic event unfolds, people's desperate plight must be addressed."

An aid convoy crossed the Turkish border into rebel-held northwestern Syria on Thursday, the first delivery into the area since the quake, an official at the Bab al-Hawa crossing told AFP.

The crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without going through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.


Paid Content