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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll surpasses WHO prediction of 20,000

Photo: @AFADBaskanlik/Twitter

At least 20,783 people have died from the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria.

In Turkey, the death toll has risen to at least 17,406 with 70,347 others reported injured while the total number of deaths in Syria has climbed to at least 3,377 with 5,245 injured persons.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had predicted that up to 20,000 deaths may be recorded. 

On Thursday, the United Nations (UN) agency said there was an urgency to ensure that people who survived the earthquake “continue to survive” now.

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Robert Holden, the WHO’s incident response manager, said there were “a lot of people” surviving “out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions”.

“We’ve got major disruptions to basic water supplies; we’ve got major disruption to fuel, electricity supplies, communication supplies, the basics of life,” Holden said.

“We are in real danger of seeing a secondary disaster which may cause harm to more people than the initial disaster if we don’t move with the same pace and intensity as we are doing on the search and rescue side.”

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He described the scale of the operation as massive, adding that it is “no easy task by any stretch of the imagination”.

“There’s a sense of purpose and a sense of focus. And that focus isn’t just about search and rescue; that focus is about ensuring people continue to survive and have what they need to be able to do so,” the WHO official said.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan said every necessary step would be taken to unite the nation, adding that no citizen would be left behind.

TheCable had reported how there was growing anger in Turkey over the “slow” response of the government but Erdogan had assured the people that the situation was under control.

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He had also earlier announced a three-month state of emergency across the affected 10 provinces in Turkey to enable rapid search-and-rescue operations.

Experts have warned that the death toll may increase as rescue operations continue.

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