Death toll in Turkey-Syria earthquake exceeds 33,000

Turkey and Syria are still suffering from the effects of one of the worst earthquakes to strike the region

The death toll has risen to over 33,000 and is expected to continue to climb as the chance of finding survivors becomes more remote. In the meantime, Turkish authorities are working to maintain order in the disaster area and have begun taking legal action against those responsible for building collapses.

Residents displaced by the earthquake in the city of Kahramanmaras are camping as close to their damaged or destroyed homes as possible to prevent looting. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is facing a national election in the coming weeks, has announced that reconstruction will begin as soon as possible.

Syria’s rebel-held northwest was devastated by the earthquake, leaving many homeless for a second time after being displaced by a decade-long civil war. The region has received limited aid compared to government-held areas, leading UN aid chief Martin Griffiths to declare, “We have so far failed the people in northwest Syria.”

According to reports, German rescue organizations have suspended operations in Turkey due to clashes and security concerns, while looters have been seen in some areas. The government has warned that looters will face severe punishment, and 131 suspects have been identified for their role in building collapses.

It has been alleged that the government has been slow and insufficient in its relief efforts, but President Erdogan has acknowledged the difficulties of delivering aid and has urged solidarity. A continuing civil war in Syria is hindering relief efforts, as aid from government-held regions is being held up by approval issues with hardline opposition groups. The EU envoy to Syria has urged Damascus to engage in good faith with aid workers and allow unimpeded access for aid.

Over 29,605 people have been killed in Turkey and over 3,500 in Syria as a result of the earthquake, which ranks as the sixth deadliest natural disaster this century. There are approximately 80,000 people in hospitals, and more than 1 million people are staying in temporary shelters.

Written by Aly Bukshi

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