With rescue teams close to halting their operations in southern Turkey and northern Syria following the devastating earthquake that struck both countries this month and claimed the lives of more than 45,000 people, the most important question is how will those who have not been removed from under the rubble be dealt with when it is removed?
To answer this dilemma, volunteers from rescue teams working in the cities of Antakya and Maraş, which are the most affected among the 10 cities hit by the earthquake in southern Turkey, explained the thorny issue of the “missing” as they put it.
No clear numbers
Two volunteers working with rescue teams through civil society organizations said, “Anyone whose body is not found at the end of the rescue operations is considered missing, and his name and descriptions are registered with the competent authorities to find his body later when removing the rubble.”
They also added to Al-Arabiya.net that “there are no numbers yet for the missing,” noting that “official and approximate statistics will be issued soon when the rescue operations are over.”
Photo of a missing child (Reuters)
The survivors are the proof
In response to a question about the mechanism for determining the location and numbers of the missing, another volunteer indicated that “the survivors from under the rubble are the guide towards the missing. For example, when rescuing a person who was stuck under the rubble, we ask him about the number of people who were with him when the earthquake occurred, to determine the number of survivors and dead.” and missing persons in the apartment or house in which he was staying.
According to the volunteers cooperating with the international and local rescue teams in Antakya and Marash, the massive destruction that struck both cities constitutes the first obstacle to finding the missing, in addition to the low temperatures, but nevertheless “the authorities are not allowed to remove the rubble except when making sure that it is free of people stuck under it.” “.
While another volunteer revealed that “the restoration or demolition teams that get rid of the rubble are aware of the number of missing persons in the buildings they are working to remove, however, by chance unknown corpses of people who were living alone were found and no one provided any information about them to the rescue teams in the hours.” Or the first days after the earthquake.
He also pointed out that “burials take place in mass graves due to the large number of them, after taking pictures of the unknown victims who were missing, so that their families can identify their graves later.”
He added, “The earthquakes that struck Turkey in the past resulted in missing persons who were not found as a result of the delay in removing the rubble by municipalities and relevant institutions.”
A deadly earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, killing more than 45,000 people in both neighboring countries, and injuring tens of thousands. Since then, rescue teams have been trying to find survivors under the rubble in both Turkey and Syria.