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Three rescued as Turkey-Syria quake death toll tops 46,000

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Men search for people among the debris in a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey, on Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo by AP)

The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 46,000, as rescue teams continue searching for survivors buried in the rubble.

The death toll in Turkey stands at 40,642 from the February 6 quake, while neighboring Syria has reported more than 5,800 deaths.

In Turkey, some 264,000 apartments have been destroyed and many are still missing. Domestic teams are continuing to search through flattened buildings hoping to find more survivors who defied the odds, while many international rescue teams have left the vast earthquake zone.

Rescue forces pulled out three people, including a child, alive from the rubble on Saturday, after spending 296 hours trapped under a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Antakya.

"We heard shouts when we were digging today … When we find people who are alive we are always happy," a member of the rescue team told Reuters.

Footage showed teams carrying a man and a woman out on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. Beside them, medics were seen treating a child.

Ambulances were on standby for possible other rescues from the same building.

According to the rescue team, the mother and father survived but the child died later of dehydration.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing over the situation of the quake-hit people in Syria, with the World Food Programme (WFP) saying its relief operations were being hampered in the northwest, although the Syrian and Turkish governments had been cooperating very well.

WFP Director David Beasley said “the problems we are running into [are with] the cross-line operations into northwest Syria,” calling for more border crossings to be opened from Turkey.

"Time is running out and we are running out of money. Our operation is about $50 million a month for our earthquake response alone so unless Europe wants a new wave of refugees, we need to get the support we need," he said.   

The Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing, which is located on the Syria-Turkey border, is currently the only way UN aid can reach civilians in war-torn Syria. This is while Syria is under severe international sanctions.

The United Nations has called for politics to be stripped out of the disaster response to facilitate aid delivery.

The Turkey-Syria border is one of the world's most active earthquake zones. Monday's quake was the largest Turkey has seen since 1939, when 33,000 people died in eastern Erzincan province. In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake killed more than 17,000.

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