Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: more than 7,000 dead according to a new provisional report – World

In freezing cold, rescuers race against time on Tuesday to try to rescue survivors in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake, the death toll of which, constantly worsening, now exceeds 7,000 dead in Turkey and Syria. Twenty-three million people are “potentially exposed, including around five million vulnerable people”, warned the World Health Organization (WHO).

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, occurred Monday at 4:17 a.m. local time (2:17 a.m. French time) in southeastern Turkey and was felt as far away as Lebanon, Cyprus and the North. of Iraq. It was followed by no less than 185 aftershocks, including one of 7.5 on Monday at midday and another of 5.5 on Tuesday before dawn. It is the worst earthquake in Turkey since that of August 17, 1999 which killed 17,000 people.

Why the earthquake in Turkey and Syria is so devastating

More than 5,000 dead in Turkey, 1,700 in Syria

International aid begins to arrive on Tuesday in Turkey where national mourning has been declared for seven days. The death toll there currently stands at 5,434. In Syria, 1,712 dead have so far been recorded, for a total of 7,146. Bad weather complicates the task of rescue and makes the fate of survivors even more bitter, shivering in tents or around improvised braziers. Deeply bruised, the Turkish region of Kahramanmaras (South-East), difficult to access, is buried under snow.

In Syria, the toll is expected to “rise considerably as hundreds of people remain trapped under the rubble”, according to the White Helmets (civil protection volunteers) in rebel areas. In the government zone, the province of Aleppo concentrates more than a quarter of the deaths, according to state media. The city, already devastated by the conflict, was hit hard with around 50 buildings collapsed and historic sites damaged including the famous citadel.

“Where is my mom? »

In Sawran (North), Mahmoud Brimo falls to his knees in front of a pile of ruins, the remains of his house. Not far away, a gray dome testifies that a mosque stood there. “Years of war hadn’t devastated us like this,” he laments, before adding: “We lost everything in an instant. We are totally destroyed”.

On both sides of the border, we are busy trying to save lives. In Jandairis, on the Syrian side, a living baby – a little girl – was pulled out of the rubble of a building. The baby was still connected by the umbilical cord to his mother, who died like all the other family members by his side. In Antakya, on the Turkish side, a seven-year-old child was extricated from the ruins under the eyes of AFP, after more than twenty hours of terror. “Where is my mom? she said to the rescuer who held her in his arms.

Help from the USA, China, Russia… and even Ukraine

The first teams of foreign rescuers arrived on Tuesday. According to the Turkish president who declared a state of emergency for three months in the ten provinces affected by the earthquake, 45 countries offered their help. The European Union has mobilized 1,185 rescuers and 79 search dogs for Turkey from 19 Member States including France, Germany and Greece. For Syria, the EU is in contact with its humanitarian partners on the ground and funds aid operations.

US President Joe Biden has promised Recep Tayyip Erdogan “all the help he needs, whatever it is”. Two American detachments of 79 rescue workers each were preparing to leave, according to the White House. China announced Tuesday the sending of aid of 5.9 million dollars, including specialized rescue workers in urban areas, medical teams and emergency equipment. Even Ukraine, despite the Russian invasion, announced the dispatch to Turkey of 87 rescue workers.

In Syria, the appeal launched by the authorities in Damascus was mainly heard by its Russian ally, promising rescue teams “in the next few hours”, while according to the army, more than 300 Russian soldiers are already on the scene. to help the emergency services.

The UN also reacted, but stressed that the aid provided would go “to all Syrians throughout the territory”.

“Everyone is scared! »

The earthquake hit the Bab al-Hawa crossing point, the only one for almost all of the humanitarian aid to rebel areas in Syria sent from Turkey, according to the UN. The Syrian Red Crescent, which operates in government areas, called on the EU to lift sanctions against Damascus and asked for assistance from the American Development Agency (USAID), following in the footsteps of the head of Syrian diplomacy Faisal Moqdad who had affirmed the day before that Damascus is ready to “facilitate” the supply of international aid.

Taking advantage of the chaos, around 20 suspected fighters from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group escaped from a military prison in Rajo, controlled by pro-Turkish rebels. In Sanliurfa in Turkey, the authorities have opened dormitories for survivors in gymnasiums, colleges or mosques. But many residents preferred to sleep outside. “Who isn’t afraid? Everyone is afraid! “says Mustafa Koyuncu, 55, crammed with his wife and five children in the family car.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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