Hopes of finding more survivors dimmed on Friday in Turkey and Syria, some 100 hours after the violent earthquakes that killed more than 21,000 people in one of the worst disasters in the region for a century. A first aid convoy made up of six trucks was able to enter the rebel areas of northwestern Syria from Turkey on Thursday through the Bab al-Hawa border post, an AFP correspondent noted.

The convoy, made up of six trucks carrying blankets, mattresses, tents, relief equipment and solar lamps should cover the needs of at least 5,000 people, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The organization of the White Helmets, rescue workers who operate in Syrian rebel areas, however expressed its “disappointment”, considering that this aid was “routine” and not specific to the search for survivors under the rubble.

The crucial 72-hour window has closed

Almost all of the humanitarian aid destined for the rebel areas is sent from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, the only one currently guaranteed by the UN. Turkish diplomacy has indicated that it is working to open two other crossing points “with the regions under government control” of Damascus “for humanitarian reasons”. The UN said on Tuesday that traffic through this border post was disrupted due to damaged roads, although the cargo transshipment platform and the crossing point itself were intact.

For his part, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced on Thursday that he was “on his way to Syria”, while the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric announced on Thursday evening, on Twitter, of his arrival in Aleppo, Syria, stressing that “communities struggling after years of fierce fighting are now paralyzed by the earthquake”.

On both sides of the border (Syria and Turkey), thousands of homes were destroyed after these earthquakes. Rescuers are stepping up their efforts to search for survivors, even though the crucial first 72-hour window to find survivors has closed, with the situation further aggravated by freezing cold.



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