Death toll surpasses 33,000 in Turkey, Syria earthquake as anger builds over response time: Live updates
Nearly a week since the most devastating earthquake in recent history, rescuers in Turkey and Syria were searching for signs of life in freezing temperatures as the death toll surpassed 33,000 and survivors expressed frustration about the rescue efforts.
The United Nations’ top aid official on Sunday said aid efforts have “failed the people in north-west Syria,” where more than 12 years of civil war have resulted in a complex political situation.
“They rightly feel abandoned,” Martin Griffiths wrote on Twitter from the Turkey-Syria border. “Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.”
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, toppling thousands of buildings and injuring tens of thousands of people. As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may need shelter, the U.N. Refugee Agency said, and the number of fatalities in both countries continues to rise.
Turkey’s death toll was 29,605 Sunday afternoon, the country’s interior ministry said. The toll in Syria’s northwestern rebel-held region has reached 2,166, according to the rescue worker group the White Helmets. The overall toll in Syria stood at 3,553 Saturday, though the 1,387 deaths reported for government-held parts of the country hadn’t been updated in days, The Associated Press reported.
But news of some remarkable rescues offered glimmers of hope. On Sunday, a young girl was pulled from the rubble “in the 150th hour” in Hatay, Turkey, the country’s health minister said on Twitter, where he shared a video of the rescue.
IRC head warns of ‘secondary crisis’ in Syria
The head of the International Rescue Committee echoed concerns about aid efforts in Syria on Sunday.
“On the Turkish side of the border, you’ve got a very strong government. You’ve got a massive aid effort underway,” David Miliband, President and CEO of the organization, told ABC. “On the Syrian side of the border, it’s people who’ve frankly been abandoned over the last 10 years.”
Rescue teams on the ground report Syrians are without food, medicine and basic hygiene supplies, and water and sanitation systems are in “ruins,” Miliband told ABC. He warned Syrians are in “grave danger of a secondary crisis” because aid is largely blocked across the Turkey-Syria border, and only one humanitarian crossing point is open.
“There is news from the United Nations that the Syrian government is going to allow aid to go into this rebel-held area from the government-controlled side. But, frankly, that’s an indirect route and it’s caught up in politics,” he told the outlet.