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Watching The Resiliency And Hope Of Turkey And Syria

Devastating earthquake in Turkey
The Color Purple 2023

Heartbreak continues to ricochet across parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake, along with its subsequent temblors and aftershocks, killed nearly 48,000 people in Turkey and 6,000 in already war-torn Syria.

Children's toys on the ruins of the house after the earthquake. Generative AI.
Children’s toys on the ruins of the house after the earthquake. Generative AI.

According to the BBC, at least 1.5 million people in Turkey are homeless because of the quake. People are trying to rebuild while facing disrupted daily routines like going to school and work. Outcries about poor building construction have led to investigations and arrests.

Meanwhile, residents in Istanbul worry about their homes. Istanbul is an ancient metropolis and sits in the North Anatolian Fault. Engineers are seeking to protect the over 15 million residents by pushing for improved building construction to withstand an earthquake, should another one occur.

The Hurriyet Daily News reports that the earthquake affected 11 Turkish provinces. Safe disposal of earthquake debris is critical; the provinces handle 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural production.

HOPE BENEATH THE RUBBLE

Despite the tragedy and new challenges, heartwarming stories of survival have also emerged. Survivors lived for hours beneath the wreckage. There was the story about 6-year-old Miray, who survived 172 hours in a collapsed building in Adiyaman.

Turkey earthquake recovery (Photo by Caglar Oskay via Unsplash)
Turkey earthquake recovery (Photo by Caglar Oskay via Unsplash)

Rescue workers also discovered a 7-year-old boy in Hatay province who spent 163 hours in the rubble, while Nafize Yilmaz of Nurdagi, 62, also survived for 163 hours before workers pulled her to safety.

Afraa Abu Hadiya died in the earthquake in Jandaris near the Turkish border with her husband and four children. But she lived long enough to bear her daughter Aya. Rescuers discovered Aya in the rubble, still connected by the umbilical cord to her mother. Footage showing the trembling newborn, cocooned in an incubator, became a metaphor for hope.

While these stories were among the inspiring, against-all-odds occurrences told in the quake’s aftermath, not every miracle story involved humans.

In the aftermath of the Turkey quake, Mexican military authorities sent 16 Mexican rescue dogs and their handlers to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts. Those dogs found four people alive and 37 bodies.

Proteo, one of the Mexican Army rescue dogs, discovered two people alive, as well as the remains of two people, according to the Mexican media. It was yet another feat for Proteo.

Proteo, Mexican Army rescue dog who died in Turkey following the earthquake there (Image credit: Mexican Army)
Proteo, Mexican Army rescue dog who died in Turkey following the earthquake there (Image credit: Mexican Army)

Their work was a symbol of hope during the rescue and recovery efforts in Turkey.

At the time of his death, Proteo was 7 years old and 9 months. According to press reports, Proteo died due to extreme weather conditions.

During his career, Proteo and his trainer were involved in the rescue of 22 people and the recovery of 37 bodies in various natural disasters and incidents in Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador and Mexico, including landslides, hurricanes and earthquakes, according to the Mexican Army.  

In gratitude, fans at a Turkish soccer match raised a banner in Proteo’s memory, and the mayor of Istanbul announced a monument to the dog would be erected in a city park.

ANSWERING THE CALL

Turks and Syrians from around the globe have pitched in to help back home. They’ve sent food, clothing, baby formula, tents and more.

Donations to Turkey. Earthquake, catastrophe volunteering, Donations, charity, help Help, clothing.
Donations to Turkey. (Photo via Envato Elements)

And as their kin rebuild in the months and years to come, the world will watch not only how developers construct new buildings to withstand seismic events, but how the people of Turkey and Syria continue to stir our hearts as they display love of family and community with their resilient strength.

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT TURKEY AND SYRIA

Resources to consider:

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/earthquake-relief-heres-how-to-donate-to-turkey-and-syria/

https://www.charitynavigator.org/discover-charities/where-to-give/earthquakes-turkey-syria/

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