Since dawn on Monday, the death toll from the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria has risen to more than 11,000 people, according to the latest figures by the Turkish authorities and Syrian officials, while rescue personnel are racing against time to extricate those trapped under the rubble.
The World Health Organization estimated that the number of people affected by the two earthquakes reached 23 million.
In Syria, the death toll has risen to 2,802, while injuries stood at more than 5,000. In a statement to the media, the Syrian Minister of Health, Hassan Al-Ghobash, said, “The number of earthquake victims has risen to 1,262 deaths and 2,285 injuries, in an indefinite toll.”
For its part, the Syrian Civil Defense said in a statement that the death toll from the earthquake in northwestern Syria rose to more than 1,540 deaths and 2,750 injuries.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the death toll in Turkey had risen to 9,057, and the wounded to 52,979, while the number of collapsed buildings reached 6,444.
He added, in a statement to reporters, on Wednesday, from the province of Kahramanmaraş, the epicentre of the two earthquakes: “We mobilized all our resources (to counter the effects of the earthquake), and the state is working with all its capabilities with municipalities, especially disaster and emergency management.”
The Turkish president sent a message of reassurance to the affected citizens, saying: “Let our citizens be reassured, we cannot let them remain in the open.” He pointed out that the earthquake-affected people could stay in hotels that were contracted in the states of Antalya, Mersin, and the city of Alanya, which is close to the affected area.
Moreover, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority announced that 96,670 people have participated in search and rescue efforts, and 50,818 tents have been set up to shelter families in the earthquake zones.
Furthermore, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria said that the earthquake exacerbated the suffering of millions of Syrians, noting that the reported earthquake casualty figures are very much lower than the painful reality.
He continued: “Before the earthquake, there were 4 million Syrians in need of aid. I hope that aid can enter Syria tomorrow via Turkey’s borders.”
He noted that the Syrian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Damascus is open to receiving aid, saying, “We are ready to receive aid and distribute it from any party,” expressing hope that “political considerations will be set aside in order to ensure the arrival of aid.”
While the rescue operations continue, several countries including Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, the US, the UK and Greece have announced their willingness to help Turkey and send specialised teams to contribute to the efforts to confront the disaster.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued on Tuesday his directives to send five military planes carrying emergency medical aid to Turkey and Syria to contribute to relief efforts.
Earlier on Tuesday, Al-Sisi extended condolences to his Syrian and Turkish counterparts over the loss of lives in the earthquakes.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that it is following -around the clock- the situation of Egyptians in both Syria and Turkey, amid reports of deaths and injuries among Egyptians in Turkey due to the catastrophe.