Death toll from earthquake in Turkey and Syria exceeds 25,000




Ankara [Turkey], February 12 (ANI): The death toll from the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria earlier this week surpassed 25,000 on Saturday (local time), reported CNN.

In Turkey, the number of people killed has risen to 21,848, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on Saturday, Erdogan added that 80,104 people had been injured.

In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,553, including 2,166 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the White Helmets civil defense group.

There have been 1,387 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media.

The total number of injured people in Syria across all affected territories stands at 5,273, with 2,326 in government-controlled areas and 2,950 in the rebel-held areas, reported CNN.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Turkish Embassy in Ukraine on Saturday and honored the memory of those who died as a result of the devastating earthquake that took the lives of more than 25,000 people.

"Please accept my sincere condolences from me personally and on behalf of the people of Ukraine. The awful tragedy that took so many lives in one moment caused deep pain in our hearts. We share the pain of the Turkish people and help in this difficult time. Eternal memory to the deceased. We wish those who suffered, a quick recovery," Zelenskyy said.

He also spoke with Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine Yagmur Ahmet Guldere during his visit.

Zelenskyy said in his address Saturday that the State Emergency Service of Ukraine is helping with debris removal in Turkey, reported CNN.

He added that the Ukrainian Embassy is looking into information about Ukrainian nationals in Turkey who may have been impacted by the earthquake.

Rescue operations are over in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria, the White Helmets volunteer organization said. Relief efforts there have been complicated by a long-running civil war.

The Syrian government approved sending aid to the rebel-held territories Friday but did not provide specifics.

Workers in Turkey are still trying to pull survivors from the rubble — and there have been some harrowing stories of success. But some organizations paused rescue work due to security concerns Saturday.

Recovery in Turkey after the devastating earthquake has now entered the "humanitarian phase," according to Jamie LeSueur, the head of emergency operations at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As his team moves on from search-and-rescue operations, the greatest needs for those affected in Turkey continue to be food, health and water, LeSueur told CNN from Gaziantep.

"We’ve now entered into the humanitarian phase. That is going to last for a couple of months, where we’ll still try to meet people’s basic needs," LeSueur said.

The United Nations aid chief described this week’s devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria as the "worst event in 100 years" to hit the region.

The official, Martin Griffiths, made the remark to reporters during a visit to Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on Saturday.

"The response as you have seen here, and as your viewers have seen, is also unique," Griffiths added. "There has never been an international response, a Turkish response to a natural disaster as we see here in these terrible days."Meanwhile, Germany has also suspended rescue and relief work at the site of a deadly earthquake in Turkey due to security concerns, following a similar move by Austria earlier Saturday, reported CNN.

The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) stopped its rescue operations due to a change in the security situation in the Hatay region, the organization said in a statement Saturday.

It had been operating with International Search and Rescue (ISAR) Germany, in coordination with Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD).

"In the last few hours, the security situation in the Hatay region has apparently changed. There are increasing reports of clashes between different groups. The search and rescue teams of ISAR Germany and THW will therefore remain in the joint base camp for the time being. ISAR and THW will resume their work as soon as AFAD deems the situation to be safe," read the statement.

The Austrian Army also cited security risks in suspending its operations, reported CNN.

The Austrian Army has suspended rescue operations in Turkey due to an "increasingly difficult security situation," according to the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU).

"The expected success of saving a life bears no reasonable relation to the security risk. There is increasing aggression between groups in Turkey," Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis of the AFDRU said in a statement Saturday.

"There was no attack on us Austrians. We’re all fine ... The mood among the helpers is good, given the circumstances ... We would like to help, but the circumstances are what they are," Kugelweis continued.

"We keep our rescue and recovery forces ready. We are ready for further operations," Kugelweis added, stating that a scheduled return to Austria for Thursday remains in place. (ANI)

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