Death toll in Turkey-Syria earthquake surpasses 20,000, aid reaches NW Syria

Death toll in Turkey-Syria earthquake surpasses 20,000, aid reaches NW Syria
Rescue teams in Turkey and Syria have continued to search through rubble for a fourth day in hopes of finding survivors, as the death toll neared 20,000.
9 min read
09 February, 2023

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Hopes faded Thursday of finding more survivors after the earthquake that killed nearly 20,000 people in Turkey and Syria, as the first UN aid reached Syrian rebel-held zones.

Bitter cold has hampered the four-day search of thousands of flattened buildings and threatened the lives of many quake victims who are without shelter and drinking water.

Criticism against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited more areas affected by the quake on Thursday, have continued.

But in a potentially life-saving development, an aid convoy reached rebel-held northwestern Syria on Thursday, the first since Monday's disaster.

The aid passage through the crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without going through areas controlled by Syrian regime forces.

5:46 PM
The New Arab Staff

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4:52 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two-year old rescued from rubble 79 hours after earthquake in Turkey

A two-year old boy was rescued on Thursday from the rubble of a building that collapsed in the southern city of Antakya, 79 hours after a massive earthquake struck the area this week, killing more than 19,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

Footage from Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) showed rescue workers looking into a narrow opening in the debris of a building in Antakya and pulling out the boy as he wept.

A worker from Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) carried the boy away and handed him over to health workers, as bystanders filmed the rescue on their phones.

Hundreds of thousands were left homeless by the earthquakes centred in southern Turkey, having to endure cold weather and a lack of resources, with hopes fading of many more people being found alive in the ruins.

Hopes are fading of many more people being found alive in the ruins [Getty]
4:44 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Syria's quake death toll in govt-held areas reaches 1,347: state media

At least 1,347 people have been killed in Syria’s regime held zones and 2,295 others injured from deadly earthquakes that rocked the country and Turkey this week, state media reported on Thursday, citing Syria's health minister.

The figure excludes northwest rebel-held areas of Syria.

Russian rescue personnel have assisted the regime in rescue efforts. Moscow has militarily backed the regime in Damascus since 2015.

The confirmed death toll in Turkey rose to 16,546 on Thursday, President Tayyip Erdogan said.

4:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UK increases funding to support search and rescue efforts in Syria

Britain said on Thursday it was committing additional funding - at least 3 million pounds ($3.65 million) - to support search and rescue operations and emergency relief in Syria following earthquakes in the region.

"Given the magnitude of the earthquakes and difficulties in accessing affected areas in North West Syria, the UK will be providing The White Helmets with additional funding to aid their major search-and-rescue operations," Britain said in a statement.

4:41 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Germany to increase Syria aid by 26 mln euros after deadly earthquake

Germany will increase the amount of humanitarian assistance it provides in Syria by 26 million euros ($28 million) to respond to the growing needs of Syrians after a deadly quake that left more than 3,200 dead across the country.

A statement from the German embassy in Beirut said the funds were needed "especially in the affected areas in the northwestern parts of the country," home to many Syrians displaced during a 12-year civil war.

"Germany can build on close ties with international organizations and NGOs in northwestern Syria, as it has already been providing extensive humanitarian assistance there," the statement said.

3:28 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN aid chief in Turkey, to visit Syria to assess quake needs

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths will visit Gaziantep in Turkey and Aleppo and Damascus in Syria this weekend to assess needs and see how the United Nations can best step up support, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.

Guterres also pushed for more aid access to opposition-controlled northwest Syria.

"Roads are damaged. People are dying. Now is the time to explore all possible avenues to get aid and personnel into all affected areas. We must put people first," Guterres told reporters in New York.

1:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

Death toll in Turkey rises to above 16,100: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday the death toll from the earthquake has risen to 16,170 in his country, with more than 64,000 injuries. He added that 6,444 buildings have collapsed.

He made his comments as he visited more areas affected by Monday's 7.8 earthquake.

Erdogan - facing ongoing criticism for his government's response following the disaster - said the Turkish parliament will vote on Thursday for a 3-month emergency in the country.

Erdogan announced a three-month emergency in Turkey following the quake [Getty]
1:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

River bank collapse floods northwest Syria villages

An embankment of the Orontes or Assi River collapsed on Thursday, leading to floods across some villages in northwest Syria's Idlib province, already shattered from Monday's powerful earthquake in Turkey.

It is believed the flooding was caused by the quake.

Aerial footage showed entire crops and villages submerged in water.

Floods have drowned large areas in Idlib [Getty]
1:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France pledges 12 mn euros in Syria quake aid

France on Thursday promised 12 million euros (almost $13 million) in emergency aid to Syrians after the earthquake that hit Turkey and neighbouring Syria earlier this week.

The aid would be disbursed "through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations in all regions affected," foreign ministry spokesman Francois Delmas said.

The pledged French aid would include five million euros for a United Nations fund providing cross-border aid to northwest Syria, Delmas said.

Another five million euros would go to "several French and international NGOs working on emergency responses in the health, shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation sectors".

The final two million euros was "under review" for urgent food aid.

1:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Earthquake death toll in northwest Syria climbs to more than 1,930: civil defence

At least 1,930 people were killed in opposition-held northwest Syria by the major earthquake, Syria's civil defence said on Thursday.

Syrian civil defence - known as The White Helmets - said on Twitter the casualties toll has risen to 1,930 deaths and more than 2,950 injured.

Thousands have died across northern Syria from the earthquake [Getty]
12:29 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

No change in approach to Syria govt after earthquake: France

France's political approach to the Syrian government will not change, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday, adding that aid in response to the earthquake would go through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations mechanism.

"Our political approach is not changing and contrary to Bashar al-Assad we are working in favour of the Syrian population," Deputy foreign ministry spokesman Francois Delmas told reporters in a briefing.

11:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey, Syria quake could cost $4 billion: ratings agency

The earthquake that has devastated Turkey and Syria could cause economic losses exceeding $4 billion, ratings agency Fitch said on Thursday.

"Economic losses are hard to estimate as the situation is evolving, but they appear likely to exceed" $2 billion and could reach $4 billion "or more", Fitch Ratings said.

Insured losses will be much lower, possibly around $1 billion, due to low insurance coverage in the area, it added.

More than 17,500 people have died so far in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, and the toll is expected to rise as rescuers comb the rubble for survivors.

The earthquake has caused widespread destruction across parts of Turkey and Syria [Getty]
11:06 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

First aid reaches Syria rebel-held areas since quake: border official

An aid convoy reached rebel-held northwestern Syria Thursday, the first since a devastating earthquake that has killed thousands, an official at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing told AFP.

"The first UN aid convoy entered today," said Mazen Alloush, media officer at the crossing.

An AFP correspondent saw six trucks passing through the crossing from Turkey, carrying tents and hygiene products.

Alloush noted the delivery had been expected before Monday's quake, but said: "It could be considered an initial response from the United Nations, and it should be followed, as we were promised, with bigger convoys to help our people."

The aid delivery mechanism from Turkey into rebel-held Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without navigating areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

While the crossing itself was not affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake, the road leading to it was damaged, temporarily disrupting operations, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

10:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Death toll rises to over 17,000 in Turkey, Syria

Officials have said the death toll in Turkey and Syria has risen to above 17,100 people, with over 14,000 in Turkey alone.

9:58 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Quake-hit Syrians need more of "absolutely everything," UN envoy says

Syrians impacted by the deadly earthquake that struck their country and Turkey on Monday need "more of absolutely everything" in terms of aid, the United Nations' special envoy Geir Pedersen said on Thursday.

The U.N had been assured the first assistance would cross from Turkey into Syria on Thursday, he told a briefing in Geneva, calling for assurances that there would be no political hindrances to getting aid to where it was most needed.

9:52 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish president to visit quake-hit areas

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was scheduled to travel Thursday to the quake-hit provinces of Gaziantep, Osmaniye and Kilis amid ongoing criticism that the government’s response has been too slow.

He visited other areas on Wednesday.

In addition to 12,873 people killed in Turkey, the country’s disaster management agency said more than 60,000 have been injured. On the Syrian side of the border, 3,162 have been reported dead and more than 5,000 injured.

Tens of thousands are thought to have lost their homes.

Experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said, it is too soon to abandon hope.

Erdogan visited devastated areas on Wednesday amid criticism [Getty]
9:49 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey working to open two more border crossings with Syria

Turkey is working to open two more border crossings with Syria to allow more humanitarian aid to enter the country after the two neighbours were hit by a huge earthquake.

Currently just one border crossing, in Turkey's southern Hatay province, is open for life-saving aid to rebel-held regions of Syria under the authourisation of the United Nations Security Council.

"There is damage to some roads on the Syrian side of the border. There has been some difficulty for our and international aid to get through because of the destruction," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters late Wednesday.

"For this reason, we are working on the opening of two more posts," he said.

"Because there is a humanitarian situation, we are working on also opening posts where the regime is in control," he added, referring to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.