Death Toll of Earthquake Exceeds 4,000 in Syria, Turkey

Residents and rescuers search for victims and survivors amid the rubble of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in the village of Besnaya in Syria, February 6, 2023. (AFP)

Turkish Disaster authorities announce that the earthquake’s death toll rises to 3419, and the Syrian Health Ministry announces more than 800 deaths.

The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) announced on Tuesday that the number of victims from the earthquake has increased to 3,419 deaths and 20,426 injured, and the Syrian Ministry of Health reported more than 800 deaths and 1,449 injuries, with an indefinite toll in the governorates of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Idlib countryside, and Tartous.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense also announced the death of three soldiers as a result of the earthquake that struck Kahramanmaraş, in the south of the country. The ministry said in a statement that Hakan Al, Mert Jan Sonbul, and Arn Tashkin, “were killed in the earthquake in Hatay.”

This announcement comes as a new earthquake hit Turkey again at a magnitude of 5.3, according to a Turkish news agency, citing the AFAD.

Turkish AFAD: More than 6,000 people were rescued from under the rubble

AFAD announced that 6,445 people had been rescued from the rubble as a result of the earthquake that struck the south of the country.

The General Director of Earthquake Risk Reduction in Disaster and Emergency Management, Orhan Tatar, said that 1,511 heavy equipment and 216 vehicles have been allocated for search and rescue operations, pointing out that the Turkish Red Crescent has sent 82 vehicles, 21 mobile kitchens, a mobile oven, 156 vehicles and a team of 975 personnel, to the area.

AFAD also noted the collapse of 6,217 buildings in Turkish cities hit by the earthquake.

All hands reach out to Turkey

Regarding aid to Turkey, China Central Television reported that Beijing will provide a first payment of 40 million yuan (approximately $6 million) in emergency aid to support relief efforts in Turkey. The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the deployment of a search and rescue team to Turkey.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian also confirmed, in a phone call to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that his country stands by Turkey in the difficult circumstances it is going through.

In the same context, two teams of Russian rescuers arrived in Kahramanmaraş, one of the cities most affected by the earthquake in southeastern Turkey, at dawn today, Tuesday. Pakistan has also sent search and rescue teams, as well as relief aid to Turkey, as a show of solidarity following the earthquakes that struck the country’s south.

Elon Musk’s help was denied

On the other hand, the Turkish government rejected Elon Musk’s proposal to launch the “Starlink” satellite internet service, after the strong earthquake that struck the country.

Musk said on Twitter that SpaceX could provide the Starlink network, once approved by the Turkish government. But a senior Turkish official, who asked not to be named, thanked the billionaire for the proposal but said that Turkey has sufficient satellite capabilities, according to Bloomberg.

Aid arrives in Syria

The head of the Latakia City Council, Hussein Zengerli, told Al Mayadeen that rescue operations are continuing, and there are no accurate numbers about victims still missing under the rubble, adding, “We opened more than one shelter, and most associations are participating in evacuation efforts.”

UNESCO revealed to Sputnik that the organization is particularly concerned about the situation in Aleppo after the earthquake, as the castle, considered a heritage site, was severely damaged, adding, “We intend to enlist the help of experts to assess the extent of damage to heritage sites in Syria and Turkey.”

Iranian aid to Syria

Simultaneously, Fars News Agency confirmed that an Iranian plane loaded with food and medical aid and necessary supplies arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, to provide aid to the victims of the earthquake.

Fars added that the Iranian consulate in the Syrian city of Aleppo is providing services, food, and means of heating to the survivors and those affected by the recent earthquake. For his part, the Syrian Director of Civil Aviation announced the arrival of two aid planes from Iraq at Damascus International Airport

Algerian volunteers to Syria

Similarly, Algerian Interior Minister Ibrahim Murad oversaw the delivery of 210 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria and Turkey late last night. The shipment includes 115 tons of food, medicine, medical supplies, and tents bound for Syria, as well as a second aid shipment of 95 tons bound for Turkey.

A group of civil protection “agents” of various ranks, totaling 86 agents and officers, headed towards Syria.

In turn, the head of the Algerian Red Crescent, Ibtisam Hamalawi, confirmed that the squad heading to Syria consists of more than 40 volunteers and first aid personnel. He noted that the team is in contact with the Syrian Red Crescent and the Turkish Red Crescent.

Syria is a sister nation: Hamieh

Regarding Lebanese support for Syria, the Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ali Hamieh, told Al Mayadeen that Syria is a sister nation and a rescue team will cross the border shortly.

Hamieh added that the port of Tripoli, the airport, and the port of Beirut will be exempt from all fees and taxes for the delivery of any aid to Syria, saying, “We are bringing a ministerial delegation to visit Syria in addition to the humanitarian mission that will depart soon.”

The Lebanese army also announced that it would send 15 members of the engineering regiment to Syria to contribute to search and rescue operations for earthquake victims after it had sent yesterday 20 members of the same regiment to Turkey.

Iraqi aid to Syria

Moreover, Al Mayadeen‘s correspondent in Baghdad reported that an aid plane had departed from Baghdad towards Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani announced the opening of a humanitarian airbridge with Syria and Turkey to deliver life-saving aid, including emergency medical supplies, first aid, shelters, and relief supplies, as well as medicine and fuel.

Al Mayadeen –Turkey-Syria Earthquake