Nearly a week after devastating earthquakes flattened towns across southern Turkey and Syria, rescue operation is an unfinished business. Tens of thousands of rescuers workers are at the sites of building collapses, pulling out survivors from under the rubble.
The official death toll as of now is around 28,000 but the rescue and search teams say they have not started counting the dead yet. Last week's earthquake has turned out to be the biggest earthquake the quake-prone nation witnessed in about a century.
According to the United Nations officials monitoring the developments, the actual death toll will go steeply higher. The toll will "double or more" from the current level of 28,000, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths has said. "I think it is difficult to estimate precisely as we need to get under the rubble but I'm sure it will double or more," Griffiths told Sky News after inspecting the rescue operations in the southern city of Kahramanmaras, which was the epicentre of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Griffiths is the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations.
Turkey has said nearly 25,000 people have died in the earthquake while Syria put the number of dead around 3,500. Turkey also said more than 32,000 rescue personnel are at the sites of devastation, trying to clear the debris and pull out people.
Scope of Tragedy
According to the United Nations, at least 870,000 people are in urgent need of food across Turkey and Syria. As many as 5.3 million people in Syria have been rendered homeless. Turkish officials said more than 12,000 buildings, most of them multi-storey apartment complexes, have been either destroyed or seriously damaged.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as many as 13 million of his country's 85 million people have been affected by the earthquake.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said some 26 million people have been affected by the earthquake. Among them, a whopping $42.8 million people support in terms of medicines and treatment. Hospitals across the quake-hit regions have been damaged, making the health crisis worse. "There are no words to express the pain they are going through," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted.
According to ratings agency Fitch, the financial losses from the earthquake could go beyond $4 billion. "Economic losses are hard to estimate as the situation is evolving, but they appear likely to exceed" $2 billion and could reach $4 billion "or more", Fitch said. Making the matters worse only one fourth of these losses are insured as rural insurance penetration is low in the country.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it will spend $85 million to offer urgent life-saving relief for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Canada has committed C$20 million in donations.
More than 30 countries have sent rescue experts, equipment and relief materials to Turkey and Syria. The US, China, India, Germany, Japan, Britain, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Russia and Australia are among the countries that sent relief missions. Countries like Greece, Armenia and Cyprus set apart hostilities and sent relief and rescue missions to Turkey.