Earthquake Death Toll in Turkey and Syria Exceeds 33,000

The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 and subsequent aftershocks continues to rise, with more than 33,000 dead in Turkey and neighboring Syria as of February 12.

Speaking to Sky News, UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths expressed fears that the final death toll from the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey would exceed 50,000.

"It's difficult to calculate precisely because we have to keep searching through the rubble, but I'm sure the figure is going to at least double," Griffiths explained in Adana, Turkey, where he described the extent of the devastation as "terrifying."

The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, arrived in Aleppo on February 11 to tour hospitals and shelters with Syria's health minister and the governor of Aleppo Governorate. Ghebreyesus said he was accompanying "emergency medical supplies of about 37 metric tons."

According to the UN, the catastrophe may have left 5.3 million people homeless in Syria, and 200,000 in Aleppo alone.

More people have died due to the earthquake than were killed in the 2011 earthquake that shook Japan, sparked a tsunami, killed some 20,000 people, and started the Fukushima nuclear calamity.

Cuban officials on February 10 announced the departure of 32 medical professionals for Turkey, and Syria's Ambassador to Cuba, Ghassan Obeid, announced earlier in the week that 27 Cuban medical personnel would be traveling to Syria.

Canada's International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan on February 6 said the federal government will provide an initial $10 million in aid to Turkey and Syria. It has also made a separate commitment to match up to $10 million in donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

Sajjan said the government is also looking at deploying medical and search and rescue teams, but that first "we have to conduct the assessments. All that information needs to be worked out." Regarding the type of assistance Canada will provide, he said, "Nothing's off the table. We'll look at any options." Sajjan did not give an estimate of how long assessments will take.

Sajjan said that Canadian aid in Syria will be provided through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Red Cross organization in the country. He said that Canada's previously announced $50 million in aid to Syria could also be used to support earthquake relief efforts. This refers to aid announced in March 2021 at an international donors' conference to provide aid to Syria.

Palestinian urgent response teams leaves for Syria and Turkey February 9, 2023, to assist in
earthquake zone.

(Agencies. Photo: WAFA)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 2 - February 2023

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