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Key developments in the aftermath of the Turkey, Syria quake

Feb 17, 2023, 10:32 AM | Updated: Feb 18, 2023, 10:14 am

Syrians stand in a queue as they wait to return to their country from the Turkish crossing point of...

Syrians stand in a queue as they wait to return to their country from the Turkish crossing point of Cilvegozu, in Reyhanli, southeastern Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Turkey's southeastern Kharamanmaras province struck in the early hours of Feb. 6, followed by multiple aftershocks, including a major one magnitude 7.5 nine hours after the first tremor. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Search and rescue teams amazingly found more survivors in the ruins of the Feb. 6 earthquake that devastated swaths of Turkey and Syria even as the death toll from worst disaster in modern Turkish history increased.

Here’s a look at the key developments Saturday from the aftermath of the earthquake.

DEATH TOLL IN TURKEY PASSES 40,000

The president of Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency, Yunus Sezer, said the number of earthquake deaths in the country has grown to 40,642.

The new figure takes the combined death toll in Turkey and Syria to 44,330. The U.N. has said the full scope of the deaths in Syria may take time to determine.

THREE RESCUED IN HARD-HIT HATAY PROVINCE

A couple and their son were extracted from under an apartment building in Antakya, the capital of Hatay province, on the 13th day of rescue operations, although the child later died.

The three were transferred to ambulances after spending 296 hours buried under the Kanatli apartment building in the center of the city, local TV reported. Footage showed medics fixing an IV drip to the man’s arm as he lay on a stretcher.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency identified the family as Samir Muhammed Accar, 49, his wife, Ragda, 40, and their 12-year-old son.

The bodies of the couple’s two other children were also found in the rubble, reports said, quoting a member of a Kyrgyz rescue team.

Hatay was one of the worst hit of the 11 provinces in the Turkish disaster zone.

MISSING SOCCER PLAYER’S BODY FOUND

Search teams have recovered the body of Ghanaian international soccer player Christian Atsu in the ruins of a building that collapsed during the earthquake, his manager said Saturday.

The remains of the 31-year-old soccer star, who had been playing for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor, were found in what was left of a luxury 12-story building in Antakya, the same city where the Accar family was found.

“Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. At the moment, his belongings are still being removed,” the player’s manager, Murat Uzunmehmet, told private Turkish news agency DHA.

Atsu, who previously played for English Premier League clubs Chelsea, Newcastle United, Everton and Bournemouth, signed with Hatayspor late last year.

The Turkish club said his body was being repatriated to Ghana. “There are no words to describe our sadness,” the club tweeted.

Reports a day after the quake struck had said that Atsu was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building and taken to a hospital for treatment. The club, however, announced days later that Atsu and the club’s sporting director, Taner Savut, were still missing. Savut has not been found.

The contractor who build the Ronesans Rezidans building, where Atsu and Savut lived, was detained at Istanbul Airport a week ago, apparently trying to leave the country.

A TEEN PREPARING FOR DEATH

A teenager who was buried under tons of debris in southeastern Turkey’s city of Adiyaman filmed what he thought was his final message to family and friends after the earthquake hit.

Instead, Taha Erdem was pulled from the rubble two hours later by neighbors and taken to an aunt’s home. His parents and siblings also would be saved.

The video the 17-year-old high school student recorded on his cellphone from a cramped space amid the concrete and twisted metal when he thought death was near has become a power affirmation of life.

Taha appears remarkably calm as the screams of neighbors are heard in the background, as well as the sound of shifting rubble as powerful aftershocks continue to pound the collapsed building.

He listed his injuries and spoke of his regrets and the things he hoped to do if he emerged alive.

“Death, my friends, comes at a time when one is least expecting it.” he said, before reciting a Muslim prayer in Arabic.

When The Associated Press spoke to the family on Thursday, they were living in a government-provided tent, along with hundreds of thousands of other survivors.

___

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Key developments in the aftermath of the Turkey, Syria quake