As rescuers probe the rubble for survivors after an unprecedented set of earthquakes devastated Turkey and Syria last week, hopes for more rescues are fast beginning to dwindle. The death toll in Turkey and Syria has already surpassed a staggering 28,000, with more than 80,000 people injured in Turkey alone, an underestimation by all counts. Despair has morphed into rage both at the agonisingly slow rescue efforts and the state for its failure to prepare people in an earthquake-prone region for a disaster of this nature. On paper, Turkey appears to follow construction codes that meet earthquake-engineering standards but they are rarely ever enforced. Thousands of buildings lie slumped and collapsed onto their side and people are caught between them. Turkey has already issued warrants for the detention of 130 people believed to be responsible for the collapsed buildings. The detentions may divert public anger towards builders and contractors for the time being but the state remains responsible for allowing these sub-par constructions to take place. A large makeshift graveyard is under construction on the outskirts of Antakya as trucks and ambulances load more and more body bags into graves, spaced no more than a meter apart. The situation in war-ravaged Syria is even less certain-the quake has displaced nearly 4.5 million people in the opposition-controlled northwest who were already faced with a humanitarian crisis before the quake. Syria’s northwest has already been the site of regular bombardments from the government, water-borne diseases sweep across the area because of lack of access to clean water and now the earthquake has destroyed internet and electricity, eroding the region’s sole remaining link to the outside world. Assistance to the area has been hampered by restrictions imposed by the Syrian government. Past humanitarian efforts in the region were stopgap measures at best and certainly not equipped to deal with a natural disaster of this scale. The UN is now under massive pressure as it finds new ways to sidestep political differences and unite against what might be the deadliest disaster of the century. Without our help, Turkey and Syria don’t stand a chance.