Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll crosses 24,000; millions turn homeless
The death toll from a horrific series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria earlier this week surpassed 24,000 on Saturday. While rescue and relief activities continued for the fifth day amid extreme weather conditions, the number of homeless and starving people continued to rise. Meanwhile, several countries and humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations (UN), have accelerated assistance efforts in the affected areas.
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Turkey and Syria were struck with a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday, followed by over 100 aftershocks and four severe quakes until the next day. The death toll from the calamity has also crossed that of Turkey's 1999 earthquake, which killed 17,000 people in the region. Notably, this is the second worst earthquake in over a century in the highly earthquake-prone area.
UN seeks help to raise $77 million for feeding homeless
At least 20,665 deaths have been reported in Turkey, while the number has crossed 3,550 in Syria. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) appealed to raise $77 million to provide rations and hot meals to a total of 874,000 earthquake-affected people. The survivors who are in dire need of food include 284,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 590,000 people in Turkey.
Watch: Video of operation by search and rescue teams
Over 5 million people turn homeless in Syria alone: UN
According to the UN, over five million people in Syria have become homeless after the devastating earthquakes that struck the country and neighboring Turkey, Al Jazeera reported. "As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake," said Sivanka Dhanapala, the Syria representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Nearly 100 countries, top sporting bodies offered assistance
Ninety-nine countries have so far offered support to Turkey for earthquake relief operations, per reports. Search and rescue teams from 68 countries were present on the ground, with 8,326 foreign workers, according to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the European Football Association (UEFA) are among the sporting bodies offering financial assistance to the affected people.
Armenia border opened after 35 years to allow relief
Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey has opened its border crossing with Armenia to allow relief to reach the earthquake victims in 10 provinces in southern Turkey. In the Igdir province, five trucks of humanitarian aid reportedly crossed via the Alican border. The border was last opened in 1988 when the Turkish Red Crescent utilized the passage to send relief to Armenia following an earthquake.
President Erdogan faces backlash; criminal complaints filed against contractors
According to local reports, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing criticism from the people of southern Turkey for the slow response to the earthquake, which took place during an election year. Reports also said despite objections from experts, local Turkish administrations allegedly supported real estate development in earthquake-prone regions. Some contractors are even facing criminal complaints as a result of the collapsing structures.Share this timeline