Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Toll Passes 19,000

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km. Reuters
Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km. Reuters
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Türkiye-Syria Earthquake Toll Passes 19,000

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km. Reuters
Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km. Reuters

Cold, hunger and despair gripped hundreds of thousands of people left homeless after the earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria three days ago as the death toll passed 19,000 on Thursday.

The rescue of a two-year-old boy after 79 hours trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, Türkiye, and several other people raised spirits among weary search crews. But hopes were fading that many more would be found alive in the ruins of towns and cities.

The death toll across both countries has now surpassed the more than 17,000 killed in 1999 when a similarly powerful quake hit northwest Türkiye.

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km (280 miles) from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east. In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, 250 km from the epicenter.

Tens of thousands of people who lost their homes in the catastrophic earthquake huddled around campfires in the bitter cold and clamored for food and water Thursday.

Winter weather and damage to roads and airports have hampered the response in both Türkiye and Syria.



WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
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WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that many people in Gaza were facing "catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions".

"A significant proportion of Gaza's population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Despite reports of increased delivery of food, there is currently no evidence that those who need it most are receiving sufficient quantity and quality of food."

Tedros said there were more than 8,000 children under five years old who have been diagnosed and treated for acute malnutrition, including 1,600 children with severe acute malnutrition.

"However, due to insecurity and lack of access, only two stabilization centers for severely malnourished patients can operate," he added.

"Our inability to provide health services safely, combined with the lack of clean water and sanitation, significantly increases the risk of malnourished children."

The war in Gaza began on Oct. 7 when fighters led by Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's response has caused the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Gazan health ministry, displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million and caused widespread hunger and destruction.

A UN inquiry on Wednesday found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes early in the Gaza war, and that Israel's actions also constituted crimes against humanity because of the immense civilian losses.

Tedros also highlighted a separate health crisis in the West Bank, where he said healthcare had been targeted by nearly 500 attacks since Oct. 7.

"While the world's focus has been on Gaza, there is also an escalating health crisis in the West Bank, where attacks on healthcare and restrictions on movement of people are obstructing access to health services," he said.

"In most areas of the West Bank, clinics are only operating two days a week and hospitals are operating at about 70% capacity."