How long can trapped people survive the devastation of an earthquake?
Experts say up to a week or more, but it depends on the injury, the nature of the fishing, and the weather conditions.
Search parties from around the world have joined local rescuers in Turkey and Syria to find victims of the devastating earthquake that claimed thousands of lives this week.
Most rescue operations occur within the first 24 hours of a disaster. After that, the chances of survival drop every day, experts say.
Many victims suffered serious injuries or were buried under falling rocks or other debris.
Access to water and air for respiration is a determining factor, along with the weather. Winter conditions in Syria and Turkey made rescue efforts difficult with sub-zero temperatures.
“Generally, survivors are rarely found after five to seven days, and most search and rescue teams will consider stopping by then,” said Dr. Jaron Lee, emergency and disaster medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital
“But there are many stories of people who survived the past seven days. Unfortunately, these cases are rare and exceptional.”
People with traumatic injuries, including crash injuries and amputations, face the most critical survival time, says Dr. Emergency Care Specialist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. George Chiampas said.
“If we don’t get them out in an hour during this prime time, our chances of survival are slim,” he said.
People with other diseases whose health depends on drugs also face grim adversity, Chiampas said. Age, physical and mental condition are important.
Dr. Christopher Colwell, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said, “There have been truly miraculous rescues and we see many different scenarios where people have survived terrible conditions.
“They are usually young and lucky enough to find a pocket in the rubble or a way to access essentials like air and water.”
After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a teenage boy and an 80-year-old grandmother were found alive after being trapped in a destroyed house for nine days. A year ago, a 16-year-old Haitian girl was rescued.
Mental State Chiampas also noted that people trapped near dead bodies without contact with other survivors or rescuers may lose hope. “If there are people alive, we rely on each other to keep fighting,” he said.