The death toll from the Turkey-Syria earthquake has surpassed 20,000
Human rights organizations slammed the timing and content of UN aid delivered to northwest Syria three days after the earthquakes.
The death toll from the Turkey-Syria earthquake has surpassed 20,000

The death toll from the earthquakes that struck southwest Turkey and northern Syria on Monday has surpassed 20,000, with the figure expected to rise as crews search the rubble of thousands of collapsed buildings.

On Thursday night, Turkey's disaster agency raised the country's confirmed death toll to 17,406, while the number of lives lost in neighboring Syria stood at 3,317.

Despite the fact that the chances of finding more people alive had faded after more than 72 hours since the devastating earthquakes, rescue workers in Adana, Turkey pulled 45-year-old Akgun Eker alive from the rubble.

A two-year-old boy was rescued from a collapsed building in Antakya earlier this month, and an eight-year-old boy was discovered in Diyarbakir. The two had been trapped for nearly 80 hours under the rubble.

Tens of thousands of survivors were evacuated from the worst-affected Turkish cities as rescue efforts continued. Meanwhile, civilians in Syrian towns assisted in the burying of those killed in the earthquake.

Aid to Syria

On Thursday, more than three days after the seismic earthquakes, the first six trucks of UN aid supplies crossed into northwest Syria.


Because of logistical issues and damage to the road connecting Gaziantep, Turkey to the UN transshipment hub in Hatay, Turkey, the flow of humanitarian aid has been temporarily disrupted since the first predawn quake hit on Monday.

But human rights groups sharply criticised the delivery’s timing and content.

“Shame on the United Nations for sending six trucks with aid which were already coming into northwest Syria before the earthquake took place,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, who has been monitoring violence inside war-torn Syria since 2011 and is the founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for increased aid access from Turkey to northwestern Syria, as he seeks an expanded mandate from the UN Security Council to allow UN assistance to be delivered through more than one border crossing. Currently, the only viable route for UN aid is through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.

Meanwhile, UN Syria mediator Geir Pedersen urged the Syrian government not to obstruct relief supplies to earthquake victims in areas not under government control.



As more aid is needed for Syria, several Western countries have pledged to increase the amount of humanitarian aid they provide to the Middle Eastern country, which has already been shattered by a civil war that has been ongoing since 2011.

Germany pledged an additional 26 million euros ($28 million) to Syria, France pledged 12 million euros (nearly $13 million) in emergency aid, and the United Kingdom pledged an additional three million pounds ($3.64 million) to support search-and-rescue operations and emergency relief in Syria.

'Century-ending disaster'

Following a vote in the Turkish parliament, a three-month state of emergency was declared in the ten earthquake-hit provinces of southern Turkey.


On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency to expedite search-and-rescue efforts.


As he monitored these efforts and met victims of the quake in the province of Osmaniye, Erdogan said that the earthquakes have caused great destruction and "can be described as the disaster of the century".

The World Bank has announced $1.78 billion in aid to Turkey to assist with relief and recovery efforts. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also discussed with his Turkish counterpart how the US could continue to assist Turkey and Syria.


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