ADANA, Turkey (AP) — Rescue workers and civilians passed chunks of concrete and household goods across mountains of rubble Monday, moving tons of wreckage by hand in a desperate search for survivors trapped by a devastating earthquake.
“Can anyone hear me?” rescuers shouted as they searched in the province of Kahramanmaras, the epicenter. In some places around southeast Turkey, survivors could be heard screaming from beneath collapsed buildings.
Many people crouched to look below a massive sheet of concrete propped at an angle by steel bars. They crawled in and out, trying to reach survivors. Excavating equipment dug through the rubble below.
Rescue efforts unfolded as darkness, rain and cold enveloped the region of Turkey and Syria devastated by a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and another major one that hit hours later. At least 3,400 people were killed and civilians joined rescuers in desperate efforts across Turkey and Syria.
Elsewhere in Kahramanmaras province, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble. One lay on a stretcher on the snowy ground. Rescuers quieted the throngs of people trying to help so they could hear survivors and find them.
In Adana, about 20 people, some in emergency rescue jackets, used power saws atop the concrete mountain of a collapsed building to carve out space that would let any survivors climb out or be rescued. Later, excavators joined the efforts as bright spotlights illuminated the wreckage.
Thousands of search-and-rescue personnel, firefighters and medics were working across 10 provinces, along with some 3,500 soldiers. Residents lifted rubble and unearthed people heard screaming from beneath buildings. Aftershocks made rescue efforts more dangerous.
Turkish military ambulance planes were transporting the injured to Istanbul and Ankara hospitals, the defense ministry said. Rescuers from across Turkey tried to make it to the provinces amid heavy snow and rain. But many in Hatay said they didn’t have sufficient help and were worried about the miles of wreckage and those trapped within it.
Four ministers held a news conference in Hatay late Monday explaining their action plans for the province. They said that because Hatay’s airport had been severely damaged, they had to fly into Adana nearly three hours away.
In Syria, a man held a dead girl in his arms beside a two-story collapsed concrete building as he walked away from the debris. He and a woman set the girl on the floor under covering to protect her from the rain, wrapping her in a large blanket and looking back to the building, overwhelmed.
An official with Turkey’s disaster management authority said 7,840 people had been rescued across 10 provinces. The official, Orhan Tatar, said 5,606 buildings had collapsed.
Tatar said the total area affected was large and places were hard to reach, but that as of late Monday, teams had been directed to all collapsed buildings.
Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Chicago contributed.