Many people have been forced to vacate their homes
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Turkey has estimated that up to 250,000 people may be affected by the destruction and damage to their homes as a result of a series of earthquakes in the south of the country, near the Syrian border, on Monday. SOURCE: EUROPA PRESS
More than 5,000 buildings destroyed
In statements to Europa Press, the head of the organization in Turkey, Ruben Cano, said that the latest estimates point to more than 5,000 buildings destroyed, a situation that, added to the recommendations not to return to their homes during the first days after the quake, means that thousands of people are forced to live on the streets.
Serving the homeless population
In this context, the international organization has for the moment focused part of its efforts on assisting this part of the population that has been left homeless and for whom tents, blankets and food are being distributed until such time as they can return to their homes.
According to Cano, the situation is further complicated by weather conditions in Turkey, which this week has been the scene of a cold snap leaving temperatures as low as minus five degrees Celsius.
Equal to the 1999 earthquake
With these figures, the agency considers that the tremor in Turkey, a country partly accustomed to earthquakes, could be on a par with the one recorded in 1999 in Istanbul, where up to 300,000 people were affected and the death toll rose to 18,000.
Damages are comparable
Turkish authorities have even compared the quake to the one recorded in 1939 in Erzincan, in the center-east of the country, where around 40,000 people died. However, Cano considers that this earthquake may be comparable in terms of the extent of damage and not so much in terms of the number of deaths.
Death toll continues to rise
For the moment, Turkish authorities have spoken of slightly more than 1,800 dead, figures that Cano believes will almost certainly «grow» as the number of missing persons is confirmed and the debris of the collapsed buildings is removed.
Turkey and Syria are the countries affected
The tremors have occurred not only in Turkey but also in part of the northern territory of Syria, an area where part of the Syrian refugees affected by the conflict in the country, active since 2011, are accumulating and where up to four million people depend on humanitarian aid.
Search functions continue
Thus, in the areas controlled by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, more than half a thousand dead and 1,300 wounded have already been confirmed. On the other hand, the rebel government in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, in the northwest of the country, have confirmed just under 400 dead and more than a thousand wounded.
An unsustainable situation
For the head of the Crescent in this area «it’s raining on wet ground», because not only is it facing the devastating effects of the earthquake and the consequences of the war, but there has also been an outbreak of cholera for months.
In order to guarantee humanitarian aid in this area, the Red Cross is assessing with the European Union the possibility of increasing the funds allocated by the European block to these areas where the population is more vulnerable due to the lack of support networks.
The international response has been swift
Finally, Cano praised the rapid response of some foreign powers, which have not only promised their collaboration with Turkey, but have already sent some emergency teams to Turkish territory, possibly more necessary than other types of aid, taking into account Turkey’s own capabilities.