The death toll continues to rise after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Rescuers are still working in the freezing cold to try to find survivors of the earthquakes that wreaked havoc in Turkey and Syria on Monday. Despite their efforts, the death toll continues to rise to now exceed 6,200 deaths between the two countries. 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”.

International aid begins to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday, where national mourning has been declared for seven days. The death toll there currently stands at 4,544. In Syria, 1,712 deaths have so far been recorded, for a total of 6,256. 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. In Syria, the death toll is expected to “climb considerably as hundreds of people remain trapped under the rubble”, according to the White Helmets (civil protection volunteers) in the rebel areas.

International aid

The first teams of foreign rescue workers 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. The European Union has mobilized 1,185 rescuers 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.

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US President Joe Biden has promised Recep Tayyip Erdogan “all the help he needs, whatever it is”. Two American detachments of 79 rescue workers each were preparing to leave, according to the White House. China announced Tuesday the sending of aid of 5.9 million dollars, including specialized rescue workers in urban areas, medical teams and emergency equipment. Even Ukraine, despite the Russian invasion, announced the dispatch to Turkey of 87 rescuers.

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 emergency services. The UN also reacted, but stressed that the aid provided would go “to all Syrians throughout the territory”.

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