more than 7,300 dead, the toll continues to rise

In freezing cold, rescuers are racing against time this Tuesday evening, February 7, to try to rescue survivors in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake, the constantly worsening toll of which now exceeds 7,300 dead in Turkey and Syria. .

Twenty-three million people are “potentially exposed, including around five million vulnerable people”, warned the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO had previously said it feared “Balance sheets eight times higher than the initial numbers”.

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Worst earthquake since 1999

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck at 4:17 a.m. local time (01:17 GMT) in southeastern Turkey on Monday and was felt as far away as Lebanon, Cyprus and northern Turkey. Iraq. It was followed by no less than 185 aftershocks, including one of 7.5 on Monday at midday and another of 5.5 on Tuesday before dawn. It is the worst earthquake in Turkey since that of August 17, 1999 which killed 17,000 people, including a thousand in Istanbul.

International aid begins to arrive on Tuesday in Turkey where national mourning has been declared for seven days. The death toll there currently stands at 5,434. In Syria, 1,872 dead have so far been recorded, a provisional total of 7,306.

The bad weather complicates the task of rescue and makes the fate of the survivors even more bitter, shivering in tents or around improvised braziers. Deeply bruised, the Turkish region of Kahramanmaras (South-East), difficult to access, is buried under snow.

Hundreds of people “trapped under the rubble”

In Syria, the results should “climb considerably as hundreds of people remain trapped under the rubble”according to the White Helmets (civil protection volunteers) in the rebel areas.

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In the government zone, the province of Aleppo concentrates more than a quarter of the deaths, according to state media. The city, already devastated by the conflict, was hit hard with around 50 buildings collapsed and historic sites damaged including the famous citadel.

On both sides of the border, we are busy trying to save lives. In Jandairis, on the Syrian side, a living baby – a little girl – was pulled out of the rubble of a building. The baby was still connected by the umbilical cord to his mother, who died like all the other family members by his side.

In southern Turkey, firefighters were unable on Tuesday evening to extinguish the huge fire caused by the fall of containers in the port of Iskenderun where a huge cloud, potentially toxic, rose in the sky.

The first teams of foreign rescuers arrived on Tuesday. According to the Turkish president who declared a state of emergency for three months in the ten provinces affected by the earthquake, 45 countries offered their help.

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The European Union has mobilized 1,185 rescue workers and 79 search dogs for Turkey from 19 Member States including France, Germany and Greece. For Syria, the EU is in contact with its humanitarian partners on the ground and funds aid operations.

International aid

US President Joe Biden promised Recep Tayyip Erdogan “all the help needed, whatever it is”. Two American detachments of 79 rescue workers each were preparing to leave, according to the White House.

China announced on Tuesday the sending of aid of 5.9 million dollars, including specialized rescuers in urban areas, medical teams and emergency equipment. Even Ukraine, despite the Russian invasion, announced the dispatch to Turkey of 87 rescue workers.

The United Arab Emirates has pledged $100 million in aid and Saudi Arabia, which has had no ties with the Damascus regime since 2012, has announced an airlift to help affected populations in both countries.

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In Syria, the appeal launched by the authorities in Damascus was mainly heard by its Russian ally, promising rescue teams “in the next few hours”while according to the army, more than 300 Russian soldiers are already on the scene to help the relief.

The earthquake hit the Bab al-Hawa crossing point, the only one for almost all humanitarian aid to rebel areas in Syria sent from Turkey, according to the UN. The Syrian Red Crescent, which operates in government areas, called on the EU to lift sanctions against Damascus and requested assistance from the US Development Agency (USAID).

Source : Nouvelobs

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