Death toll from earthquake in Syria and Turkey surpasses 20,000

Friday, February 10, 2023

Collapsed buildings in Diyarbakır, Turkey on Monday.
Image: VOA.
Map of the seismic activity
Image: DG ECHO.

On Thursday, the death toll from Monday's earthquake in Syria and Turkey rose to over 20,000 people; it is expected to continue rising as the full extent of damage becomes clearer. The quake was felt in a large part of the Middle East.

The first quake was a 7.8 Mw followed shortly by a 7.5 Mw quake. According to Adelheid Marschang of the United Nations' WHO, up to 23 million people were affected.

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited affected provinces on Wednesday. Erdoğan has been facing domestic criticism of the government's response to the disaster. "Of course, there are shortcomings. The conditions are clear to see. It’s not possible to be ready for a disaster like this," he said in response.

Nevertheless, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, "I refuse to look at what is happening as above politics and align with the ruling party. This collapse is exactly the result of systematic profiteering politics". He continued: "If there is anyone responsible for this process, it is Erdoğan. It is this ruling party that has not prepared the country for an earthquake for 20 years."

The ongoing Syrian Civil War has worsened the situation there and made the country less accessible to aid workers. The European Union (EU) is sending aid, overriding sanctions, after Syria's government requested it.

Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, called for EU members to donate medical equipment and food while ensuring they were not diverted to Bashar al-Assad's government.