Earthquake Deaths Rise in Turkey and Syria

Earthquake damage in Turkey and Syria | Image by Syrian Civil Defense

Rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria continue a week after the countries experienced two major earthquakes, measuring 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale, on February 6.

Since the initial earthquakes, Turkish officials have reported more than 1,117 aftershocks. Due to these natural disasters, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a three-month state of emergency, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Casualty counts have continued to climb in both southern Turkey and northwestern Syria.

In Turkey, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority has reported 31,643 deaths. How much higher that number will rise is unknown, as reported by The Washington Post. Syria has also experienced significant loss as the government-controlled portion of the country has reported 1,414 deaths, and 3,160 deaths have been reported by the rebel-run Syrian Salvation Government’s Health Ministry.

These counts bring the total death toll so far to a shocking 36,217.

A recent report from the World Health Organization has found that nearly 26 million people will be affected by earthquakes in the two countries, as the consequences of damages are multifold. Worsening an overwhelming need for medical aid is the shortage of undamaged medical facilities, not to mention interrupted supply lines of medicine and food.

Homelessness and displacement are also expected to be significant issues facing survivors. This is especially true in Syria, where the UN has said it expects more than five million people to be without homes due to the earthquakes, NPR reported.

Speaking from the site of the catastrophe during a press conference on Saturday, Martin Griffiths, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, urged the world to rally and come to the aid of the people of this region, who are facing their “worst event in 100 years.”

“I am here to make sure these people are not forgotten,” Griffiths told reporters, according to Reuters.

The UN has sent at least 52 relief trucks to Syria. These efforts have made Griffiths more optimistic about the prospects for relief in Syria.

“I am encouraged by the scale-up of convoys from the UN transshipment center at the Turkish border,” tweeted Griffiths. “We need to open more access points and get more aid out fast.”

Other attempts to aid the two countries have been taking place as well. President Erdogan released a new decree that allows mobile pharmacies to enter the earthquake zone, while the Ministry of Health will continue to provide free drugs. The World Health Organization has also appealed for $42.8 million in immediate aid for those affected, as reported by The Washington Post.

In response to the earthquakes, local donation spots have been set up around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex by the Turkish American Association of Northern Texas. The locations are in Garland, Downtown Dallas, and Carrollton, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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