About 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured after a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria early yesterday, February 6, 2023.
This is according to an update from Turkey’s vice-president, Fuat Oktay, on On Tuesday morning, February 7, 2023.
According to him, 3,419 people had been killed in the quake, with another 20,534 had been injured.
The number of confirmed deaths on the Syrian side of the border rose to 1,602, bringing the death toll in both countries to 5,021. Turkey’s disaster management agency said it had 11,342 reports of collapsed buildings, of which 5,775 had been confirmed.
People in remote towns in southern Turkey described how relief efforts were stretched to breaking point, amid destruction over a border region spanning almost 650 miles.
In rebel-held northern Syria, volunteer rescue workers said they lacked some of the most basic fuel and other provisions required to pull those still trapped under the rubble of their homes.
An unknown number of people remain trapped and efforts to find survivors have been frustrated by frigid conditions. Poor internet connections and damaged roads between some of the worst-hit cities in Turkey’s south, home to millions of people, also hindered rescue teams.
The quake, one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), the US Geological Survey said.
Multiple strong aftershocks have been felt across the region for hours after the first quake, including a severe quake measuring magnitude 7.5. Turkey’s disaster agency appealed for help from the international community as it conducts search and rescue operations.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was, “launching immediate cash assistance” from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to help relief efforts in both countries.
Many other organisations were also on the ground responding. CNN’s Impact Your World has gathered ways to help victims of the massive earthquake.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held separate calls with his Turkish and Syrian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, yesterday and pledged Moscow’s assistance in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes, according to a Kremlin readout.
Putin expressed, “deep condolences over the devastating earthquakes” to Erdogan and “reaffirmed his readiness to immediately provide the Turkish partners with the necessary assistance in eliminating the consequences of this natural disaster,” the readout said.
According to the Russian readout, Erdogan “warmly thanked” Putin and said that he was instructing the competent departments of the country to accept the help of Russian rescuers.
In a conversation with Assad, Putin also conveyed his condolences and “offered to provide the Syrian side with the necessary assistance in eliminating the consequences of this disaster” which Assad accepted, according to the Kremlin.
“Bashar al-Assad accepted this offer with gratitude, and in the next few hours, rescuers from the Russian Emergencies Ministry will fly to Syria,” the Kremlin readout went on to say.
Russia is the strongest foreign power operating in Syria, and Putin has long allied himself with Assad, throwing the full weight of the Russian military behind the Syrian Army.
The region of northwest Syria, which was impacted by the deadly earthquake has 4.1 million people who rely on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) yesterday.
The majority of the people were women and children and along with the devastation from the earthquake, Syrian communities had been battling an ongoing cholera outbreak amid a harsh winter with heavy rain and snow over the weekend, OCHA said in its statement.
“The UN and partners are monitoring the situation on the ground amidst information flow constraints due to chronic telecommunication disruptions and power shortages. Infrastructural damages are difficult to assess at this time and roads have been reportedly blocked in both Türkiye and north-west Syria,” OCHA added.