200 Hours After the Quake, the Improbable: Survivors

Yet the combined death toll stands at nearly 40K
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2023 3:05 PM CST
200 Hours After the Quake, the Unthinkable: Survivors
People stand by a collapsed building in Adiyaman, southern Turkey, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.   (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The New York Times puts the count of "improbable rescues" at nine: people finally freed from the rubble roughly 200 hours after devastating earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria. One of those rescues involved two brothers who survived on protein powder and by drinking their own urine; the men, ages 17 and 21, were on Tuesday pulled from beneath the building that collapsed on them in Adiyaman some 198 hours prior. Another woman was rescued in the same town after a 16-foot-long tunnel was dug out to reach her. To give context to how incredible it is to be finding survivors after 8 days have passed, two points of reference:

  • A natural hazards expert in the UK told CBS News that for those trapped under rubble, "The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%."
  • The survival rate "decreases dramatically after 5 days and is null after 9 days," per a 2017 study out of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México cited by USA Today. The researchers added the caveat that there have been exceptions, and the paper flags one: a 16-year-old girl who was found alive 15 days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday put the death toll at more than 35,000 people, establishing it as the deadliest such disaster since the country’s founding 100 years ago; the AP reports the Erzincan earthquake in 1939 killed roughly 33,000 people. Syria's death toll stands at nearly 3,700 deaths, putting the overall toll at nearly 40,000.

(More Turkey-Syria earthquake stories.)

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