Turkey earthquake rescue teams have matter of 'days' to find survivors as 'time is enemy'

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EXCLUSIVE: Earthquake search and rescue officials have a matter of "days" to rescue people trapped under rubble before they succumb to hunger, hypothermia, or crush injuries.

15:15, Wed, Feb 8, 2023 | UPDATED: 15:42, Wed, Feb 8, 2023

Syria: Child rescued from rubble in Qatma

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search and rescue teams working in and have just "days" left to find living survivors, an expert has warned. While they have rescued hundreds of people after combing through rubble in the two countries, the risks multiply exponentially with every day for those still stuck underground. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ilan Kelman, a Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London (UCL), explained the rescue window is rapidly shrinking.

Professor Kelman said that, when it comes to earthquake search and rescue, time is "always the enemy".

He said: "The window for post-earthquake search-and-rescue is always immediate.

"The majority of survivors extricated after an earthquake are pulled out within 24 hours by local teams.

"Time is always the enemy, as seen in Turkey and Syria, due to immediate medical needs since people can bleed to death or succumb to crush injuries; due to aftershocks that can collapse precarious structures with people underneath; and due to the weather which has dropped below freezing at night and which has been cold during the day, so people die through hypothermia."

READ MORE: Dad holds hand of dead daughter crushed beneath rubble


'Time is the enemy' Earthquake search and rescue teams have 'days' to find survivors (Image: GETTY)

"As well, while individuals are occasionally pulled out alive after five or more days, many die due to lack of food and water while awaiting rescue."

As that window shrinks, rescuers are turning to increasingly ambitious methods to free people trapped under collapsed buildings.

In the Turkish city of Adana, teams are using truck-mounted cranes to lift concrete slaps from a collapsed apartment complex.

A report from the Associate Press found they were using the method to extract nearly 60 people trapped inside.

Collapsed building

People trapped under rubble could succumb in a matter of days (Image: GETTY)

Rescuers have flocked to the building to sift through debris, with more than two dozen on the scene.

In a now familiar scene for the quake-stricken parts of Turkey and Syria, they were pictured gathered around the building and listening for signs of life.

Locals and relatives of those believed stuck inside were alongside them camped around fires.

Turkey has no shortage of aid workers, according to recent reports, with groups arriving to offer a hand from around the world.


Aid worker

Aid workers have arrived in Turkey and Syria from all over the world (Image: GETTY)

The UK and other western nations were quick to offer assistance, and the latest arrivals include flights from Iraq, Iran, Jordan, UAE and Egypt.

Syria has also received help from the international community, with government-controlled and rebel regions decimated by the magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes on Monday.

Bashar al-Assad's administration requested help from the European Commission's civil protection mechanism.

Officials could receive help from the EU27 and other nations on top of assistance from volunteer groups like the Syrian Civil Defence already active in the country.

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