Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo Turkish rescue workers from Kazakhstan and Turkey pull out Hatice Akar from a collapsed building 180 hours after the earthquake in Kahramanmaras
# Earthquake
Death toll from Turkey-Syria quake rises above 35,000 as Ireland gives extra €8 million in aid
Turkish media have reported a handful of people were still being pulled from the rubble.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 13th 2023, 10:39 PM

THE TOLL FROM last week’s earthquake in Turkey and Syria has risen above 35,000 today, as rescue teams start to wind down the search for survivors and the aid effort shifts to hundreds of thousands of people made homeless.

One week after the 7.8-magnitude tremor, Turkish media reported a handful of people were still being pulled from the rubble and increasingly desperate conditions for survivors battling lack of hygiene, toilets and water.

The confirmed death toll stands at 35,331 as officials and medics said 31,643 people had died in Turkey and at least 3,688 in Syria after the 6 February earthquake.

The United Nations has decried the failure to ship desperately needed aid to war-torn regions of Syria and warned that the toll is set to rise higher as experts caution that hopes for finding people alive dim with each passing day.

Millions ‘need to be fed’ 

In Kahramanmaras, close to the epicentre, 30,000 tents have been installed, 48,000 people are sheltering in schools and another 11,500 in sports halls, Turkey said.

“Send any stuff you can because there are millions of people here and they all need to be fed,” appealed Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu last night. 

While hundreds of rescue teams are still working, efforts have ended in seven parts of the province, he added.

In Antakya, clean-up teams started to evacuate rubble and erect basic toilets as the telephone network started to come back in parts of the town, an AFP reporter said.

The city was patrolled by a strong police and military presence which authorities deployed to prevent looting following several incidents over the weekend.

a-boy-walks-near-collapsed-buildings-in-antakya-southernmost-turkey-on-february-13-2023-the-devastating-earthquake-occurred-in-southern-turkey-and-syria-on-february-6th-and-more-than-33000-people Alamy Stock Photo A boy walks near collapsed buildings in Antakya, southernmost Turkey Alamy Stock Photo

Hatice Goz, a volunteer psychologist in Turkey’s Hatay province, said she has been fielding “a barrage of calls” from frantic parents looking for missing children.

A four-year-old girl, named Miray, was saved today from the rubble the city of Adiyaman, after being trapped for 178 hours. 

A 12-year-old boy named Kaan was also pulled from the debris in southern Hatay, 182 hours after the fifth-deadliest earthquake of the 21st century, Turkish media reported.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay last night said 108,000 buildings were damaged across the quake-hit zone with 1.2 million people being housed in student accommodation and 400,000 people evacuated from the affected region.

Aid packages, mainly clothes, were opened and spread across the streets in Hatay province, according to NTV. One video showed aid workers throwing clothes randomly into a crowd as people tried to grab whatever they could.

After days of grief, anger is growing in Turkey over the poor quality of buildings as well as the government’s response to the country’s worst disaster in nearly a century.

Three people were put behind bars by yesterday and seven more have been detained – including two developers who were trying to cross into neighbouring Georgia.

Homeless in Aleppo

Today, the UN’s relief chief Martin Griffiths visited Aleppo, where more than 200,000 people have been left homeless by the earthquake, according to the WHO.

A convoy with supplies for northwest Syria arrived via Turkey, but Griffiths said more was needed for millions whose homes were destroyed.

In Syria the toll has not changed for several days and is expected to rise.

“We have so far failed the people in northwest Syria. They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived,” Griffiths tweeted yesterday.

Supplies have been slow to arrive in Syria, where years of conflict have ravaged the healthcare system, and parts of the country remain under the control of rebels battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is under Western sanctions.

“Our focus now is on helping the Syrian people,” said UN envoy Geir Pedersen in Damascus.

Bab al-Hawa has been the only point for international aid to reach people in rebel-held areas of Syria after nearly 12 years of civil war, after other crossings were closed under pressure from China and Russia.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this evening said Assad has agreed to open two more border crossings – Bab Al-Salam and Al Raee from Türkey to northwest Syria – to allow in aid.

“Opening these crossing points – along with facilitating humanitarian access, accelerating visa approvals and easing travel between hubs – will allow more aid to go in, faster,” Guterres said.

The head of the World Health Organization met Assad in Damascus yesterday and said the Syrian leader had voiced readiness for more border crossings to help bring aid into the rebel-held northwest.

the-rescue-operations-have-continued-around-collapsed-buildings-in-antakya-southernmost-turkey-on-february-13-2023-the-devastating-earthquake-occurred-in-southern-turkey-and-syria-on-february-6th Alamy Stock Photo The rescue operations have continued around collapsed buildings in Antakya Alamy Stock Photo

Conflict, Covid, cholera, quake

“He was open to considering additional cross-border access points for this emergency,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

“The compounding crises of conflict, Covid, cholera, economic decline and now the earthquake have taken an unbearable toll,” Tedros said a day after visiting Aleppo.

While Damascus had given the all-clear for aid convoys to go ahead from government areas, Tedros said the WHO was still waiting for a green light from rebel-held areas before going in.

Assad looked forward to further “efficient cooperation” with the UN agency to improve the shortage in supplies, equipment and medicines, his presidency said.

He had also thanked the United Arab Emirates for providing “huge relief and humanitarian aid”, with pledges of tens of millions of dollars.

Aid from Ireland

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has today announced an additional €8 million in emergency assistance for the people of Turkey and Syria. This will bring the total direct Irish response to €10 million.

The total package will support immediate and urgent humanitarian needs on the ground.

The funds will be allocated to Ireland’s key partners including the United Nations Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Irish Non-Governmental Organisations working on the ground. The focus will be on the provision of cash assistance, emergency non-food items and shelter.

The response will also include Ireland’s largest ever deployment of emergency stocks under the Rapid Response Initiative. These emergency stocks are pre-positioned in Dubai and Brindisi, and consist of blankets, tents, solar lamps, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and emergency shelter kits.

The first shipment will arrive in Turkey this week. Distribution will be in coordination with Concern, Goal and local partners to reach those most in need.

“The ever increasing death toll in Türkiye and Syria is difficult to fully comprehend,” Martin said.

“Tens of thousands have lost their lives and many more are now facing displacement and harsh winter conditions in the most difficult of circumstances. To assist with the emergency humanitarian response efforts, I have today made an additional allocation of €8 million, on top of the €2 million allocated last Monday, to address the most urgent and immediate needs of those affected,” he said.

Includes reporting by – © AFP 2023 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel