Up to 23 mn people could be affected by Turkey, Syria quake: WHO

AFP , AP , Tuesday 7 Feb 2023

Up to 23 million people could be affected by the massive earthquake that has killed thousands in Turkey and Syria, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.

Turkey Syria quake
Three million people are exposed, including around five million vulnerable populations, WHO says, Idlib province, Syria, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. AP


"Event overview maps show that potentially 23 million people are exposed, including around five million vulnerable populations," WHO senior emergencies officer Adelheid Marschang told the UN health agency's executive committee.

Rescuers raced Tuesday to find survivors in the rubble of thousands of buildings brought down by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks that struck eastern Turkey and neighboring Syria, with the discovery of more bodies raising the death toll to more than 5,000.

Turkey has deployed more than 24,400 search and rescue personnel to the quake area.

The number was expected to rise with the arrival of additional personnel though the wintry conditions were hampering their deployment, disaster management agency official Orhan Tatar said.

"The adverse weather conditions continue in the region. Therefore, from time to time it may be difficult to transport these search and rescue teams to the region,'' he said.

Temperatures overnight in the quake-hit city of Gaziantep sank to -5 C (23 F).

Tatar said 10 ships were helping the rescue efforts, by transporting the wounded to hospitals, mainly from the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun.

About 55 helicopters had conducted 154 sorties to transport emergency aid and around 85 trucks were distributing food, he said.

Tatar said his agency had received 11,342 reports of collapsed buildings, but only 5,775 of those reports have been confirmed.

In a separate incident a large fire broke out at a section of a port in an earthquake-stricken city in southeast Turkey and is raging for a second day.

Television images Tuesday showed thick black smoke rising from burning containers at Iskenderun Port on the Mediterranean Sea, in the city of Iskenderun. Reports said the fire was caused by containers that toppled over during the powerful earthquake that struck southeast Turkey on Monday.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said a Turkish Coast Guard vessel was assisting efforts to extinguish the fire.

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