Death toll from Turkey-Syria earthquakes passes 9,000, UN intervenes with $25 million

Rescuers from Turkey and Syria, and increasingly from around the world as international assistance arrived, have continued to search the rubble for survivors early Wednesday after major earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Officials say the number of dead tallied in the two countries so far is climbing toward 9,000, with fears that this figure could double.  

Turkey’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said on Wednesday that the death toll there had climbed to at least 7,108.

The combined death toll from figures provided by Syrian authorities operating in government-controlled and insurgent-held areas has meanwhile topped 2,500.

The White Helmets rescue team, which is coordinating emergency efforts in rebel-held areas, said on Twitter the toll had risen to more than 1,280 deaths and more than 2,600 injured.

Overnight, the Syrian health minister said the number of
dead in government-held parts of the country rose to 1,250, the
state-run al-Ikhbariya news outlet reported on its Telegram
feed. The number of wounded was 2,054, he said.

All the responsible authorities continue to warn that the figures could continue to rise and that the chances of finding survivors under the rubble is diminishing as time passes. 

Here are other updates regarding the Turkey-Syria earthquakes on Wednesday, February 8:

Blaze reignites at Turkish port of Iskenderun

A fire at the southern port of Iskenderun that was extinguished on Tuesday after breaking out amid the massive earthquake the day before has reignited and is being fought from the air, Turkey’s Agriculture Ministry says.  

The fire shut down operations at the port, forcing freight vessels to be diverted to other destinations.

North Korea’s Kim sends condolences to Syria

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his condolences to Syrian President Bashar Assad following the earthquakes, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Wednesday.

North Korea is a major ally of the Assad government, with the two countries maintaining close military ties. South Korea, meanwhile, does not have diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime.  

Summary of Turkey-Syria earthquake events on Tuesday

Rescue workers deployed from all over the world rushed to the scene on Tuesday, with many of the teams heading for Turkey.

Teams from South Korea to Bosnia-Herzegovina or Germany or the UAE to name but a few set off to try to join the operations before all hopes of finding people alive faded.

South Korea’s first responders left Incheon International Airport on TuesdayImage: Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo/picture alliance

The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, said two of its assistance teams will arrive in Turkey by Wednesday morning local time.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said some 40 rescuers from German charity International Search and Rescue (ISAR Germany) were in Turkey, as well as several members of the German federal police force. Another specialist team from the THW rescue agency had to delay its departure on Tuesday because of a winter storm halting their flight. 

People tried to organize rapid assistance on a more local level, too. 

In Berlin, Turkish and Kurdish community groups coordinated to collect, sort, and send aid donations from the large Turkish diaspora. Similar operations were underway in Frankfurt and Munich. 

Berlin’s Turkish community coordinated relief efforts from a music school in the German capitalImage: Markus Schreiber/AP Photo/picture alliance

The United Nations has released $25 million (€23 million) from its emergency fund in humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

EU Crisis Commissioner Janez Lenarcic said 27 search and rescue teams from 19 European countries have been mobilized to search for survivors in Turkey. Lenarcic said medical teams were also being sent to help, together with 1150 rescuers and 70 rescue dogs.

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