Turkey earthquake: Death toll exceeds 40,000

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The combined death toll from the earthquake that ravaged cities in Turkey and neighbouring Syria has exceeded 40,000 leaving many survivors homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged problems in the initial response to the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck early on February 6 but has said the situation is now under control.

“We are facing one of the greatest natural disasters not only in our country but also in the history of humanity,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.


Nine survivors were rescued from the rubble in Turkey on Tuesday, more than a week after the massive earthquake struck, as the aid effort shifted to helping people now struggling without shelter or enough food in the bitter cold.

Those rescued on Tuesday included two brothers, aged 17 and 21, pulled from an apartment block in Kahramanmaras province, and a Syrian man and young woman in a leopard-print headscarf in Antakya rescued after over 200 hours in the rubble. There could be further people alive still to find, said one rescuer.

Muhammed Enes Yeninar, a 17-year-old earthquake survivor, is rescued from the rubble of a building after last week’s devastating earthquake, in Adiyaman, Turkey February 14, 2023.

But U.N. authorities have said the rescue phase is coming to a close, with the focus turning to shelter, food and schooling.

“The needs are huge, increasing by the hour,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization’s director for Europe. “Some 26 million people across both countries need humanitarian assistance.”

“There are also growing concerns over emerging health issues linked to the cold weather, hygiene and sanitation, and the spread of infectious diseases – with vulnerable people especially at risk.”

Families in Turkey and Syria say they and their children were dealing with the psychological aftermath of the quake.

Also Read: Turkey Earthquake: Erdogan DeclaresThree-Month State of Emergency in 10 Provinces

A first convoy of U.N. aid entered rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkey via the newly-opened Bab al-Salam crossing.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Monday to allow U.N. aid to enter from Turkey via two more border crossings, marking a shift for Damascus which has long opposed cross-border aid deliveries to the rebel enclave.

Nearly 9 million people in Syria were affected by the earthquake, the United Nations said, as it launched a $400 million funding appeal.


Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters

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