/ 09 February 2023

Aussies AWOL as clock ticks in Turkey and Syria

Image source: AAP
Image source: AAP

Time is running out for rescuers looking for earthquake survivors in Turkey/Syria as the search enters a 3rd night. The official death toll has passed 11,000 – a figure that is expected to rise – making it the deadliest seismic event in more than a decade. At least 40,000 more are injured. Foreign Minister Penny Wong says 4 Aussies remain unaccounted for, and our officials are assisting another 40 Aussies and their families in the area. One of those missing is Sydney man Can Pahali, who was visiting his sister in Turkey’s hardest-hit province Hatay, where at least 872 people have died. Drone footage reveals the extent of the damage there, while video from a live broadcast during the 2nd earthquake shows the chaos many faced.

There are some miraculous stories of survival, including a newborn baby, but also many accounts of people frustrated by a lack of help. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces, but residents claim the official response has been too slow. In the epicentre of Gaziantep, locals say it took 12 hours for emergency crews to arrive. Erdogan conceded some failings but said, “It is not possible to be prepared for a disaster this big.” Turkish officials blamed the devastation spread across more than 1,000km, winter conditions, damaged infrastructure and insufficient resources for hindering their efforts. In Syria, rescuers report hearing cries from beneath the rubble but have no equipment to reach them. Doctors Without Borders warned those without shelter are also at risk, and people will suffer for “months upon months” as it’s a “catastrophe on top of a catastrophe” in the wartorn nation. 

On top of Australia’s $10 million in aid, PM Anthony Albanese says 72 “highly trained” Aussie search and rescue crew are en route to Turkey, joining 60,000 other aid workers from around the world. At least 70 countries have sent funds, specialist teams and equipment to assist, including 16 earthquake rescue dogs from Mexico. For the public, disaster response experts say the best way to help is to donate money to a reputable charity rather than “pile minibuses full of old jumpers”. Former UN aid boss Jan Egeland warned when it comes to Syria, people should donate to international organisations as it is a “very, very complex political landscape” with multiple groups still fighting for control and a government that has pocketed aid before. One reputable organisation is the Red Cross, and details about their fundraiser are here

Know someone who'd be interested in this story? Click to share...

The Squiz Today

Your shortcut to being informed, we've got your news needs covered.

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

Quick, agenda-free news that doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.