A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake has killed more than 1,700 people across Syria and Turkey including more than 783 in Syria bringing further tragedy to a region already battered by years of conflict and humanitarian crisis. The tremors brought down residential buildings across northern Syria. Many families are still trapped beneath the rubble of their homes and the death toll is expected to continue to rise.
Thousands of volunteers from The White Helmets on the ground have joined the emergency response searching for survivors, pulling the dead from collapsed buildings and transporting the injured to hospital. However, their resources are overwhelmed and they urgently need international support to respond to a disaster of this magnitude.
Among those worst affected are civilians in northern Syria, many of whom were displaced and already live in desperate conditions. Thousands now find themselves homeless amid freezing weather and snow storms with further cold and wet weather expected over the coming days.
Raed Alsaleh, head of The White Helmets said: “The situation is truly catastrophic, there are no words to describe the scale of the devastation we are witnessing. Thousands of White Helmets rescue workers have been working through the night using all our resources to save lives. They are doing everything they can but the scale of this disaster is far greater than our emergency response capacity. Snowstorms and heavy rain are also hampering our response. We urgently need support from the international community to cope. We need more fuel to transport the injured and specialist equipment to assist with rescue operations.”
Laila Kiki, Executive Director of The Syria Campaign said:
“We cannot overstate how catastrophic the consequences of this earthquake are and will be for the people of northern Syria. These are people who have already endured years of suffering, relentless bombings by Russia and the Syrian regime and were already struggling to survive a desperate humanitarian crisis even before the earthquake struck.The devastation has been compounded by years of funding shortages, restrictions on humanitarian aid deliveries and deadly attacks by the regime and Russia that have battered local infrastructure, destroyed hospitals and left civilian homes dilapidated and prone to collapse. The health system in northern Syria was already on the brink of collapse and further hospitals have been damaged by the earthquake. It will take years for Syria to recover from this disaster.
“Local organizations with limited resources cannot face a crisis of this scale alone, the international humanitarian system needs to respond quickly and urgently employ all resources so that rescue workers and survivors on the ground in Syria receive the emergency assistance they need. The international community must act now.”
For media interviews with first responders from The White Helmets or local humanitarian organizations on the ground please contact: [email protected]
To donate to the White Helmets emergency response visit www.thewhitehelmets.org