The balance of the earthquake on February 6 in Turkey and Syria exceeded 41,000 deaths this Thursday, according to updated official counts, while the United Nations requested 1,000 million dollars to face the growing humanitarian crisis.
Eleven days after the earthquake – one of the deadliest in the last 100 years – rescuers managed to extract a 17-year-old teenager and a woman in her 20s from the rubble.
"She looked in good health. She opened and closed her eyes"said Ali Akdogan, a coal miner, after helping to rescue Aleyna Olmez in Kahramanmaras, a town near the epicenter of the quake.
However, hope of finding survivors has been largely dashed.
Many in the affected areas face a parallel emergency as they try to collect their belongings in the bitter cold, without food, water or toilets, increasing the chances that the disaster will escalate due to disease.
"The needs are great, people are suffering, and there is no time to waste."said the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in a statement, where he requested funds to help the victims.
He said the contributions would provide relief for three months to 5.2 million people.
The money "would allow aid organizations to rapidly ramp up life support" in areas such as food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.
"I urge the international community to step up and fully fund this crucial effort in response to one of the worst natural disasters of our time.".
‘On the third day she died’
Officials and doctors say that 38,044 people have died in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria since the earthquake on February 6, for a total of 41,732 confirmed deaths.
The quake, which occurred in one of the world’s largest seismic zones, struck highly populated areas while people were sleeping, and houses that were not built to withstand the powerful vibrations of the ground.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has rejected accusations that his government failed to respond to the country’s deadliest natural disaster in recent times.
For every miraculous story of survival, there are others of broken hope where loved ones die in the rubble.
Hasan Irmak saw five relatives, including his six-year-old daughter Belinda, buried under the remains of their home in Syria, in the border town of Samandag.
"She was alive for two days"said the 51-year-old man.
"He spoke to her among the ruins. And then he lost all the energy from him. On the third day she died. Help came fourth day".
Turkey has suspended rescue operations in some regions and the Syrian government has done the same in areas under its control.
The Red Cross on Thursday tripled its emergency fund request to more than $700 million.
The situation in rebel-held northwestern Syria is particularly difficult as aid is slow to arrive in a region devastated by years of conflict.
"There is no electricity, no water, no sanitation"Abdelrahman Haji Ahmed told AFP in Jindayris, on the Turkish border, in front of his destroyed house.
"The lives of all families are a tragedy".