The death toll from earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria this week neared 16,000 on Thursday, as hopes faded of many people being found alive 72 hours since the disaster and frustration simmered over the slow delivery of aid.
Turkey’s disaster agency said earlier on Thursday that the number of people confirmed dead had climbed to 12,873 overnight. That means the combined tally of fatalities from the quakes in both countries has now reached 16,035.
More than 60,000 people are reported injured in Turkey and more than 5,000 injured reported in Syria. Freezing temperatures deepened the misery Thursday for survivors.
Hopes of finding many more survivors in the sub-zero winter temperatures are fading, however, particularly in northwest Syria where rescue efforts are hampered by the devastation wrought by 11 years of civil war.
“The death toll and injured is expected to rise much higher with many families still under collapsed buildings,” Raed Saleh, head of the rescue service in the northwest
The first convoy of humanitarian assistance for north-west Syria, where the impact of 11 years of civil war on healthcare, emergency services and infrastructure is hugely complicating relief efforts, is en route to the southern Turkish border with the hope of crossing into Syria later on Thursday
The World Health Organization is sending expert teams and special flights with medical supplies to Turkey and Syria in addition to a Convoy of humanitarian aid for northwest Syria en route to southern Turkish border. Syria’s government has received help from a host of Arab countries including Egypt and Iraq, as well as from its key ally Russia, which has sent rescue teams and deployed forces already in Syria to join relief work, including in Aleppo.
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