International aid agencies are stepping up efforts to help millions of homeless people, many sleeping in tents, mosques, schools or cars, 11 days after a massive earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria killing more than 42,000.
Two people were reported to have been pulled alive from the rubble in Türkiye on Thursday, but such rescues have become increasingly rare, leaving anger to smoulder as hope dies.
A 17-year-old girl was extracted from the ruins of a collapsed apartment bloc in Türkiye’s southeastern Kahramanmaras province, broadcaster TRT Haber reported, 248 hours since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the dead of night on February 6.
Footage showed her being carried away on a stretcher covered with a thermal blanket while an emergency worker held an intravenous drip.
About 10 hours later, Neslihan Kilic was rescued.
“We had prepared her grave and we asked the rescue workers to stop digging as we feared they would damage the remaining corpses under the rubble. Moments later, her voice was heard from under the ruins of the building,” Kilic’s brother-in-law told broadcaster CNN Turk.
Kilic’s husband and two children are still missing.
The quake killed at least 36,187 people in southern Türkiye, while authorities in neighbouring Syria have reported 5,800 deaths, a figure that has changed little in days.
The United Nations on Thursday appealed for more than $1 billion in funds for the Türkiye relief operation, just two days after launching a $400 million appeal for Syrians.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, speaking on Thursday in his first televised comments since the quake hit, said the response to the disaster required more resources than the government had available.
Neither Türkiye nor Syria have said how many people are still missing.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, who visited Türkiye last week, said the people had “experienced unspeakable heartache”, adding: “We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.”
For families still waiting to retrieve relatives, there is growing anger over what they see as corrupt building practices and deeply flawed urban development that resulted in thousands of homes and businesses disintegrating.
“I have two children. No others. They are both under this rubble,” said Sevil Karaabdüloğlu, as excavators tore down what remained of a high-end block of flats in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, where her two daughters had lived.
About 650 people are believed to have died when the Renaissance Residence collapsed.
“We rented this place as an elite place, a safe place. How do I know that the contractor built it this way? … Everyone is looking to make a profit. They’re all guilty,” she said.
Some 200 km (125 miles) away, about 100 people gathered at a small cemetery in the town of Pazarcik to bury a family of four – Ismail and Selin Yavuzatmaca and their two young daughters – who all died in the Renaissance building.
Turkey has promised to investigate anyone suspected of responsibility for the collapse of buildings and has ordered the detention of more than 100 suspects, including developers.