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The death toll in Syria approaches 3,600 as hopes for the earthquake survivors fade


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The death toll in Syria approached 3,600 on Sunday after massive earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 last week devastated neighboring Turkey.

The casualty count was compiled from Syrian state media and Syrian Civil Defense sources as the country remains divided between factions due to the decade-long civil war.

The Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, announced Friday that the death toll in northwest Syria had risen to 2,166, with more than 3,000 injured as of Saturday.

It added that more than 550 buildings were completely destroyed in the area, while the number of severely damaged buildings reached 1,578.

“Search operations are continuing and bodies are being recovered under very difficult conditions, 116 hours after the earthquake,” the rescue service in the opposition-held northwest wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake in areas controlled by the Syrian regime has exceeded 1,400, according to the state-run SANA news agency.

The total death toll in Syria is 3,575. However, that number could rise exponentially as the window to rescue survivors trapped under rubble closes rapidly nearly a week after the earthquake.

The head of the White Helmets operating in opposition-held areas of Syria has declared that the search and rescue mission is now “over”, dashing hopes of finding other survivors.

“We did not save anyone alive, and that is why we moved to the second stage, which is to remove the bodies from under the rubble,” Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, told the German News Agency (dpa).

They tweeted that they had not saved anyone alive since Thursday.

However, on the side under the control of the regime, three people were rescued from under the rubble of a building in the city of Jableh, about 110 hours after the deadly earthquake, according to what official media reported.

Live television footage from the site showed two people being pulled from the rubble by Syrian and Lebanese rescue crews, while bystanders clapped and shouted “Allahu Akbar”.

A rescue worker said two of those rescued were a woman and her child.

On Sunday, a United Nations convoy of ten trucks crossed from Turkey into northwestern Syria, an area largely outside the control of the central government in Damascus, through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to an AFP correspondent.

The trucks were carrying shelter kits of plastic sheeting, rope, nails and nails for tents as well as blankets, mattresses and carpets.

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