Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the world leaders to offer their countries’ assistance following a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that toppled buildings and killed thousands in Turkey and Syria. Other countries, including Germany and the United States, have begun mobilizing personnel and resources following requests from Turkey and Syria as the two nations deal with the fallout from the tragedy.
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and the northwest of Syria on Monday, bringing the death toll to at least 3,400 and thousands injured in both nations.
In Turkey, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake took place in Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş province at 4:17 a.m. local time on Monday. Then, an additional 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Elbistan district at 1:24 p.m. local time, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
Turkey has declared a seven-day national mourning period starting Feb. 6 to Feb. 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in a tweet.
Rescue workers and civilians passed chunks of concrete and household goods across mountains of rubble Monday, moving tons of wreckage by hand in a desperate search for survivors trapped by a devastating earthquake.
An official with Turkey’s disaster management authority said 7,840 people had been rescued across 10 provinces.
The official, Orhan Tatar, said 5,606 buildings had collapsed.
Tatar said the total area affected was large and places were hard to reach, but that as of late Monday, teams had been directed to all collapsed buildings and were working to rescue survivors inside.
In Syria, 1,444 people died and about 3,500 were injured in the earthquake, according to figures from the Damascus government and rescue workers in the northwestern region controlled by insurgents.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agency is “fully committed to support” earthquake response in Turkey and Syria.
“The United Nations is fully committed to supporting the response,” said Guterres. “Our teams are on the ground assessing the needs and providing assistance.”
The United Nations team in Syria expressed its “deepest condolences and solidarity” to people who are affected by the earthquake in a tweet, adding that it is already at work to coordinate the assistance in all its areas of reach in the country.
At least 224 buildings were completely destroyed in Syria, while at least 325 were partially destroyed by the earthquake according to initial information from local authorities, the UN reported.
Syria’s UN ambassador, Bassam Sabbagh, said he brought forward Syria’s request for support to Guterres “in face of the devastating earthquake.”
“I stressed the need to quickly deploy search and rescue teams in Syria, and provide all Syrians with shelter, food and medication,” Sabbagh tweeted.
Sabbagh was asked by reporters whether Syria would agree to allow the UN to deliver aid through other crossing points from Turkey, if that is feasible. He didn’t respond directly, but said the government is ready to help and coordinate aid deliveries “to all Syrians in all territory of Syria.”
The rebel-held territory has depended on a flow of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.
Efforts to mobilize aid are already underway, with countries from around the world sending crews to assist with the search and rescue efforts, as well as stabilization.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described reports and images from Turkey and Syria as “devastating” and expressed his condolences, adding that Canada is ready to offer support to the affected countries.
“Canada stands ready to provide assistance,” Trudeau wrote in a tweet.
Global Affairs Canada said the agency is closely monitoring the situation and is in contact with its humanitarian partners.
“We are assessing needs on the ground and stand ready to provide assistance,” spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod said in a statement to Global News, adding the government is coordinating closely with officials in Turkey.
MacLeod said so far, Global Affairs Canada has not received any requests for assistance from Canadians in Turkey or Syria related to these earthquakes.
The agency said there are currently 7, 513 Canadians registered abroad in Turkey, while 1,394 are in Syria and 1,319 are in Israel.
— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters
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