Ankara (Allbanaadir Media) – Rescue efforts continued Tuesday to locate survivors amidst the wreckage of thousands of structures destroyed by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in eastern Turkey and Syria.
Turkeys Vice President Fuat Oktay reported that Turkey’s death toll f has risen to 3,419, with 20,534 people injured. The total number of fatalities in Turkey and Syria now stands at 5,102.
The quake, the deadliest to hit Turkey since 1999, resulted in widespread destruction, with thousands of buildings toppled and hospitals and schools ruined. Thousands of thousands of people were injured or left homeless in several Turkish and Syrian cities.
As the winter weather added to the woes of the affected population, aid officials were particularly concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, which is already grappling with a civil war that has been ongoing for nearly 12 years.
The quake affected approximately 13.5 million people in an area spanning 450 km from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east and 300 km from Malatya in the north to Hatay in the south.
As rescuers worked tirelessly through the night and into the morning, people waited with bated breath for any news of survivors.
In Antakya, near the Syrian border, families slept in cars lined up on the streets. At the same time, a woman’s voice was heard calling for help under a pile of rubble. Reuters journalists also witnessed the body of a small child lying lifeless nearby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced its concern about the situation, with its Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stating that “it’s now a race against time.”
The WHO is especially worried about areas in Turkey and Syria where information has not emerged since the quake struck.
In Syria, the death toll in government-held areas rose to 812, according to the state news agency SANA, while in the rebel-held northwest, it was over 790, as reported by the Syrian civil defense.
According to UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, the earthquakes have reportedly killed thousands of children. The fuel shortages and harsh weather conditions have created obstacles for U.N. humanitarian officials trying to reach those in need.
The earthquake has left the Turkish government with a multi-billion-dollar reconstruction challenge just as it prepares for tight elections in three months. The economy, already strained by inflation, is likely to take a hit as a result of the quake.