ANKARA/DAMASCUS — The death toll from the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria four days ago has surpassed 21,000, according to latest data released by authorities and rescuers.
The death toll from the earthquakes climbed to 17,674 in Turkey, with 72,879 injuries, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Thursday.
In Syria, 1,678 people were killed in government-held areas, and the death toll in the opposition-held region stood at 2,190, according to media reports.
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Turkey’s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time, followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country’s southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time in Kahramanmaras province, Xinhua news agency reported.
International search and rescue teams, including an 82-member Chinese rescue team that arrived in Turkey on Wednesday, rushed to the quake-impacted zone to assist in rescue efforts.
UN humanitarian chief to visit the worst-hit regions
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is set to travel to Turkey and Syria.
Over the weekend, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator will visit Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, and Aleppo in northwestern Syria — two of the worst-hit regions, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The Under-Secretary-General will show solidarity with the people of both countries, thank the UN teams on the ground and garner more support for the ongoing relief effort, as humanitarian needs continue to grow,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report.
The first UN convoy since the earthquake crossed from Turkey into northwest Syria through Bab al Hawa on Thursday, OCHA said.
The convoy included six trucks carrying shelter items and non-food kits from the International Organization for Migration.
OCHA said that so far at least 108 search and rescue teams, both from the UN and other international organisations, have been deployed in Turkey, with a total of 6,479 personnel and 212 search dogs.
Another 60 international teams are on their way. — IANS