Ten days after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, emergency services are still recovering many bodies from the rubble. More than 42,000 deaths have been counted in both countries so far. The Turkish disaster service Afad reported that 36,187 people were killed by the tremors. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported 5,900 deaths from Syria.

According to Afad, there were more than 4,300 aftershocks, some of them in Syria on Thursday. In the Syrian province of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, the aftershock had a magnitude of 4.7, according to the National Seismological Center.

The Turkish government increased the number of provinces affected by the earthquake disaster from ten to eleven. On the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the eastern Turkish province of Elazig is now officially a disaster area.

Two men rescued from rubble after 261 hours

According to their own statements, rescue workers in Turkey were again able to rescue two men from the rubble in the city of Antakya. The two were freed in the 261st hour after the beginning of the earthquake disaster, reports the state-affiliated broadcaster CNN Türk and describes the rescue of the 26 and 34-year-old men as a “double miracle”. The information could not be independently verified.

Humans can typically survive about 72 hours without water. According to doctors, those who are still being rescued must have found some kind of water supply in the rubble.

Heavy attacks on northern Syria

Despite the dire situation, Turkish forces continued to attack targets in Syria, activists said. According to activists, Turkish forces bombed Tal Rifat in northern Syria, which was badly hit by the tremors. A 70-year-old civilian was killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tal Rifat is controlled partly by Kurdish militias and partly by Syrian government forces.

According to the activists, there is already chaos in the city near the border. Turkey occupies areas in northern Syria and has been taking action against Kurdish militias there for a long time. One person died in a Turkish drone attack in Kobane on Sunday.

Access to clean drinking water at risk

According to the local medical association, access to clean drinking water is at risk in south-eastern Turkey. Tap water could possibly be contaminated by mixing with the sewage system and is therefore currently not to be enjoyed, said the head of the Medical Association (TTB) in Adana in southern Turkey, Selahattin Mentes, the German Press Agency. The water is currently being examined.

In some districts like Nurdag in Gaziantep there is no water at all because everything has been destroyed. “We urgently need access to clean drinking water in the region and we have to establish hygiene. In addition, the garbage has to be disposed of,” he said. Otherwise there is a risk of infectious diseases such as cholera.

The lack of prospects is growing in Syria

The aid organization Doctors Without Borders is also warning of cholera outbreaks in Syria due to the lack of clean water. In addition, the aid currently provided cannot cover the enormous needs of the population. The organization anticipates a significantly increased need for psychosocial counseling after the earthquake disaster. The suicide rate has already “increased in recent years due to the precarious living conditions and the lack of prospects.”

The earthquake disaster “really broke the back of the Syrian people,” said the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Jagan Chapagain. After years of civil war, it was a “crisis after a crisis”.

Meanwhile, Arab media reported that more and more Syrians are leaving Turkey after the earthquake. Almost 1800 people have returned to their homeland. A total of around 3.6 million people had fled from bombs and violence to the neighboring country in recent years. After the earthquake, however, many want to be with their families again, although the danger of war is far from over.

Criticism of planned visa facilitation

In Germany, too, the dismay after the disaster is great. The federal government is planning visa facilitation for earthquake victims from Turkey. However, critics complain that for the three-month visa for admission to relatives in Germany, for example, a valid passport and a biometric photo are required. In view of the destruction in the affected areas, this is often not possible.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser rejected the criticism. “We can hardly do more relief at this point,” she told the “hessenschau extra” on Hessischer Rundfunk. However, improvements will be made if necessary, for example with the staff of the immigration offices.

Early Monday morning a week ago, a first earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 shook southeast Turkey at 2.17 a.m. (CET), followed hours later by a second severe earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6.