Turkey announced that it would demolish buildings that sustained extensive damage from the powerful earthquake last week and begin a large-scale reconstruction project. Thousands of families are struggling to survive in the aftermath of the quake, and a woman was rescued from a collapsed building after being buried for 222 hours.
In Syria’s opposition-held northwest, which has already been affected by years of bombardment, people are left to fend for themselves amidst the rubble. The combined death toll in both countries has risen to over 41,000, leaving millions in need of humanitarian aid and many survivors homeless in near-freezing temperatures.
In Turkey’s Hatay Province, half of the buildings have collapsed, been severely damaged, or must be demolished promptly. The government has encouraged people to return to their homes if and when authorities deem them safe.
In Syria, relief efforts have been hindered by the civil war, with aid slowed by the complex politics of humanitarian assistance. Though a single border crossing from Turkey to Syria was opened after the quake, the U.N. did not send aid through for days due to logistical issues.
The government of Turkey has stated that it will quickly demolish necessary buildings and construct safe houses. Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy said at a news conference that people should return to their homes to “start getting back to normal.”
The situation in Syria is dire, with many displaced people from Aleppo struggling to make ends meet and rebuild their lives. Eight days after the earthquake, a second border crossing for aid delivery was opened after Syrian President Bashar al Assad gave his approval. However, the trucks contained none of the heavy equipment and machines that rescuers need to remove rubble faster.
Rescue workers in Idlib and Jandaris are still searching for survivors, and are responding to reports of people missing. Civil defense volunteer Hassan Mohamed said that while efforts to find survivors in the worst-hit areas of northwest Syria have ended, they are still deploying in response to reports of people missing. He added, “We are also going to areas where there has been no internet.”