Earthquakes that killed thousands in Turkey, Syria are among the deadliest in history
by Aysha Qamar
As Turkey and Syria deal with the aftermath two horrific and massive earthquakes, both countries continue to see a rise in the death toll. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency Tuesday after at least 10 provinces were devastated by the two earthquakes that left a trail of destruction across both Turkey and neighboring Syria, Reuters reported. As of this report, more than 6,000 people have died, with thousands of others severely injured.
With thousands of buildings, hospitals, and schools collapsed, people in Turkey have been left homeless and injured. Rescue teams are working to remove thousands from underneath the collapsed ruins. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake is said to be the deadliest in Turkey since 1999; it was followed by another measuring 7.5.
“We will quickly complete the presidency and National Assembly processes regarding this decision, which is to cover the 10 provinces and remain in effect for a period of three months,” Erdo?an said in his speech Tuesday.
“Our teams worked selflessly to reach the disaster areas and join the operations despite the difficulties due to weather conditions. What is more, the danger the large number of aftershocks cause in damaged structures negatively affect the works,” Erdo?an added. “We rapidly continue the search and rescue operations with the support of our citizens and volunteers regardless of the difficulty of the conditions.”
The state of emergency is expected to last until May 14, when the country holds its next elections, BBC reported. Erdo?an noted that as rescue missions continue, more than 50,000 search-and-rescue personnel are working on the scene, with more than 150,000 beds, tents, and other relief materials sent to the impacted regions.
But while efforts are being made quickly, the winter weather situation has impacted rescue efforts, with several areas without both gas and electricity. According to The Guardian, at least 8,000 people have been rescued from debris in Turkey, with 380,000 taking refuge in shelters. But this is apparently not even a fraction of those impacted.
Because of the already concerning situation in Syria, a country already inflicted by a humanitarian crisis and an over 10-year war, officials noted that the toll in Syria is magnified. Buildings and infrastructure in the country had already been damaged by bombings and violence.
“It’s now a race against time,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “Every minute, every hour that passes, the chances of finding survivors alive diminishes.”
While the conditions are worsening, hope remains as dozens of countries from across the world are working to send not only medical supplies and money but teams to help the people of Turkey and Syria. According to the Associated Press, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 224 buildings in northwestern Syrian were destroyed and at least 325 were damaged, including aid warehouses. While the U.N. has been assisting 2.7 million people each month with cross-border deliveries, this effort may now be disrupted.
At least 30,474 people have been injured between the two countries, according to figures from the Turkish government, the White Helmets, and Syrian state media, CNN reported.