Search and Rescue in Turkey and Syria Following Devastating Earthquake
On February 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked southern Turkey, leaving more than 21,000 dead and millions displaced. Satellite images from NASA show the massive scale of destruction in Turkey and Syria, where a second magnitude 7.7 quake struck later that day. Thousands have offered to adopt the newborn girl, Aya, who was pulled from the rubble in northwest Syria. Her rescue went viral on social media and has brought attention to the plight of those living in the region.
The earthquake is one of the deadliest this century and its high death toll can be attributed to the older buildings that remained vulnerable to tremors. Turkey revised its building codes in 2000 but many structures were not up to standard. Countries such as Japan, which has experienced its own share of earthquakes, have been aggressive in updating their building codes regularly.
Search and rescue efforts continue in Turkey and Syria as the death toll rises. Nearly 26,000 search and rescue workers in Turkey are on the ground searching through toppled buildings and piles of rubble while in Syria rescue teams are contending with a “very vulnerable situation”.
The earthquake has also brought attention to the need for international aid in Syria, which has been largely neglected by the international community due to the ongoing conflict. NGOs have been pleading to international agencies and the world’s governments to provide much-needed support to implement effective search and rescue operations in the vital first seventy-two hours of the crisis.
Questions remain as to whether animals can detect powerful earthquakes before seismic machines. Reports of animals acting strange ahead of earthquakes date back to ancient Greece, but a useful pattern remains elusive. A 2018 review into 700 recorded claims of abnormal animal behavior before earthquakes called for more evidence before drawing conclusions. Although much of the existing evidence is too anecdotal and retrospective to be reliable, researchers suggest that many historical examples of animals behaving strangely could be explained by seismic foreshocks seconds before the bigger earthquake waves.
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