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Rescuers keep digging for survivors a week after the Turkey-Syria earthquake

Women sit in front of the rubble of an area destroyed during the earthquake in Antakya, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Bernat Armangue
Women sit in front of the rubble of an area destroyed during the earthquake in Antakya, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

ISTANBUL — People buried under rubble in collapsed buildings in southern Turkey continue to defy the odds, surviving freezing temperatures and a week without water. But the numbers are small, and tired rescue crews know time is running out.

A 40-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble of a five-story building in Islahiye, in Gaziantep province early Monday. Turkish media report that another rescue crew, alerted by a search dog, was in contact with what are believed to be three more survivors – a mother, daughter and baby.

Earlier, 60-year-old Erengul Onder was freed from the rubble in the town of Besni, in Adiyaman province.

The deadly 7.8-magnitude quake that hit last Monday, and the powerful tremors that followed, have killed more than 33,000 people, and experts predict that total is sure to rise. Homeless families shelter in tents erected by AFAD, Turkey's emergency management agency.

In Syria, the U.N. says more than five million people may be without homes after the quake. U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said the world has failed the people of northwest Syria, who "rightly feel abandoned."

Washington has asked the U.N. Security Council to authorize the delivery of aid to rebel-held territory in Syria through additional border crossings from Turkey.

Across southern Turkey, residents forced to flee their cracked and damaged homes vent their fury at the sub-standard - possibly illegal - construction practices that they say made this disaster much worse than it needed to be.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said no government could be ready for a disaster of this magnitude, but many wonder what this will mean for his political future.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.