Search and rescue teams from Gift of the Givers are en route to Turkey and Syria to assist with relief efforts, the humanitarian aid organization stated on Tuesday.
This comes after the two neighboring countries were struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and dozens of aftershocks on Monday, killing more than 4,800 people, injuring thousands more, and trapping an undetermined number beneath the wreckage.
The chairman of Syria’s national earthquake center, Raed Ahmed, described the quake as “the largest ever recorded by the center.”
According to media sources, a multi-story apartment building with people inside was among the 5,606 structures crushed to rubble in Turkey, while dozens of buildings collapsed in Aleppo, Syria’s archaeological site.
“Our staff in Syria and Turkey awoke to a terrifying tremor at 04:10 today [Monday],” the Gift of the Givers reported. “A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck various villages and cities in both Turkey and Syria.”
“Our teams quickly evacuated children from our Bayt Kareem child care center in Gaziantep, Turkey, while our medical teams in Darkoush were on high alert and prepared to respond.” The casualties began to arrive, with 25 fatalities and over 100 injuries, and they continue to stream in.
The number of victims in both countries is projected to climb dramatically as freezing temperatures, rain, and snow impede rescue attempts.
Concerned about the mounting death toll, the Turkish ambassador to South Africa, Aysegul Kandas, and consul-general in Cape Town, Sinan Yesildag, reportedly called the organization.
“Gift of the Givers only replies if the impacted country makes a request for international aid. Not only has the request been made, but the Turkish ambassador to South Africa, Aysegul Kandas, and the consul-general in Cape Town, Sinan Yesildag, have called us directly to aid in this massive calamity. They will make all the necessary arrangements in Turkey.
Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, the South African ambassador to Turkey, has also requested our involvement. Dr. Naeem Kathrada and Colin Deiner, head of Western Cape provincial disaster management, are currently in a meeting with the Turkish consul-general and the general manager of Turkish Airlines, Muhammed Soner Aydin. Later today, we will meet with the Turkish ambassador and representatives from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, it stated.
As rescuers locate more fatalities in the wreckage, the World Health Organization has warned that the death toll might grow by as much as eight times.
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