Death toll from Turkey, Syria earthquake passes 11,000

World Wednesday 08/February/2023 15:56 PM
By: DW
Death toll from Turkey, Syria earthquake passes 11,000

Ankara: Rescuers from Turkey and Syria, and increasingly from around the world as international assistance arrives, have continued to search the rubble for survivors early Wednesday after major earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Officials say the number of dead tallied in the two countries so far has climbed past 11,000, with fears that this figure could double.  

Turkey's Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said on Wednesday that the death toll there had passed 8,500.

The combined death toll from figures provided by Syrian authorities operating in government-controlled and insurgent-held areas has meanwhile topped 2,600.

The White Helmets rescue team, which is coordinating emergency efforts in rebel-held areas, said on Twitter the toll had risen to more than 1,400 deaths and more than 2,600 injured.

Overnight, the Syrian health minister said the number of dead in government-held parts of the country rose to 1,250, the state-run al-Ikhbariya news outlet reported on its Telegram feed. The number of wounded was 2,054, he said.

All the responsible authorities continue to warn that the figures could continue to rise and that the chances of finding survivors under the rubble is diminishing as time passes.

Syria officially asks for EU aid, bloc says
The sanctions-hit Syrian government has put in an official request to the European for emergency assistance, the bloc's commissioner for crisis management has said.

"Earlier today, this morning, we have received a request from the government of Syria for assistance through the civil protection mechanism," Janez Lenarcic told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the European Commission was "encouraging" EU member states to respond to the request while ensuring that aid "is not diverted" by the government in Damascus. The regime headed by President Bashar Assad has been sanctioned by the bloc since a bloody 2011 crackdown on anti-government protests that has led to a long-running civil war.

The White Helmet group, which is leading rescue efforts in rebel-held areas of Syria, has also appealed for international help as it tries to find and save survivors.

The group was formed a decade ago to help save civilians amid the civil war.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in the region devastated by Monday's earthquakes, his office said on Wednesday.

According to previous information, Erdogan was to travel to the town of Pazarcik, the epicenter of the quake, and to the worst-hit province of Hatay.

Erdogan has declared a state of emergency in 10 Turkish provinces over the earthquake.

During his visit, Erdogan, in apparent response to complaints that authorities had been slow in providing assistance, admitted that there had been initial problems but said operations were back to normal now.

The president was accused on Wednesday by an opposition politician of neglecting to prepare for such a catastrophe during his 20 years in power.

CHP party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said Erdogan had squandered money gathered from a national tax that aimed to finance earthquake protection measures.

Emergency workers from around the world arrive in crisis zone
Help has been arriving in Turkey and Syria from all over the world to help with search-and-rescue operations.

The European Union is among those offering assistance, with teams of emergency workers mobilized to help finds survivors in Turkey. The bloc's Copernicus satellite system is also providing mapping services amid the emergency. At least 19 EU member states have also offered help. The EU is also helping in neighboring Syria by funding groups in charge of rescue operations.

Germany's THW civil protection agency has sent a 50-member rescue team, including seven dogs, to Turkey. Germany is also preparing deliveries of emergency generators, tents, blankets and water treatment equipment.

The US is coordinating emergency assistance to Turkey, including by sending teams to support search and rescue efforts. Nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers, along with six specially trained dogs, were also being sent to Turkey.

The Israeli army is sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel and other aid workers to Turkey, a country with which Israel has uneasy relations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid for Syria, with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.

Russia, China, Greece, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Britain and Australia are among other countries and entities assisting in either Turkey or Syria or both.

China will offer 30 million yuan (€4.1 million, $4.4 million) in emergency aid to Syria, its Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, told a regular news briefing on Wednesday.

Blaze reignites at Turkish port of Iskenderun
A fire at the southern port of Iskenderun that was extinguished on Tuesday after breaking out amid the massive earthquake the day before has reignited and is being fought from the air, Turkey's Agriculture Ministry says.  

The fire shut down operations at the port, forcing freight vessels to be diverted to other destinations.

North Korea's Kim sends condolences to Syria
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his condolences to Syrian President Bashar Assad following the earthquakes, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Wednesday.

North Korea is a major ally of the Assad government, with the two countries maintaining close military ties. South Korea, meanwhile, does not have diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime.