A woman has been rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building 10 p.m. after an earthquake leveled parts of Turkey and Syria, Turkey’s state information service said. Anadolu Agency reported early Tuesday.
More than 16,000 rescuers were engaged in an effort to search for survivors, the agency said, citing an emergency management official. But the window to find others was starting to shrink, experts said, and specialists traveling to Turkey from the United States and beyond were certain to encounter difficulties accessing the site and performing operations. safety.
One to three days after an earthquake is usually the “golden period” to save lives, said Lody Korua, a search and rescue expert in Indonesia who volunteered for earthquake response operations. of land for more than 15 years. Even then, the logistics can be very complicated.
“The people we rescue are injured – they’re under the rubble, and we don’t know how deep,” he said. “They’re stuck, maybe with their legs crushed by the collapsed structure, with broken bones, and they can’t scream for help.”
Some survivors have been found four or more days after an earthquake, said David Lewis, who coordinates an international urban search and rescue team for the New South Wales Fire and Rescue Agency. , in Australia. He added that how long a person can survive in the rubble depends on several variables, including the temperature, their access to food and water, and how they were trapped.
Unfortunately, he added, the powerful earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria came in the middle of the night – a time when many people would have been asleep and unable to find a safer place to sleep. shelter.
“Then it would just be a matter of hoping that when the building collapses,” he said, “there was a void and you didn’t have the roof or the top floor that went down. would collapse on you.”
The effectiveness of specialists rushing to the earthquake zone will depend in part on how well they are coordinated and how quickly they arrive. But the area is remote and relatively difficult to access, said Yosuke Okita, an international emergency management expert at Keio University in Japan.
If the region’s smaller airports lack the capacity to transport search and rescue personnel and their heavy equipment, teams would have to fly to larger airports and drive to the earthquake zone by truck, a said Mr. Okita. Finding trucks can also be difficult, he added, and some roads to the disaster area are blocked.
When they arrive, rescuers entering partially collapsed buildings will work in dangerous environments.
Many buildings in the earthquake zone appear to be decades-old lightly reinforced concrete and masonry structures, said Jerome F. Hajjar, a structural engineer at Northeastern University who specializes in earthquakes. This means that they could be vulnerable to further collapse in the event of a major aftershock or to a fire caused by a gas leak.
“It makes the situation even more difficult,” Prof Hajjar said.