- Death toll 29,695 in Turkey, more than 4,300 in Syria;
- Hundreds of thousands homeless in middle of winter;
- UN aid chief says world has failed people of northwest Syria.
More than 34,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, officials said.
One week after the devastating earthquake hit Turkey, teams are still rushing to save victims that could be alive under the rubble — even as aid agencies and authorities warned the chances of finding survivors are becoming increasingly unlikely.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the government will deal firmly with looters, as he faces questions over his response to the earthquake ahead of an election scheduled for June that is expected to be the toughest of his two decades in power.
The quake is now the sixth most deadly natural disaster this century, behind the 2005 tremor that killed at least 73,000 in Pakistan.
Rescue operations are over in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria, the White Helmets volunteer organization said. Relief efforts there have been complicated by a long-running civil war.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday urged the UN Security Council to approve two additional access points to deliver aid to parts of Syria.
“We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria,” United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Twitter from the Turkey-Syria border, where only a single crossing is open for UN aid supplies.
“They rightly feel abandoned,” Griffiths said, adding that he was focused on addressing that swiftly.
The United States called on the Syrian government and all other parties to immediately grant humanitarian access to all those in need.
The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit areas of northern Syria has been complicated by a long-running civil war between opposition forces and the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of killing his own people.
Russia, which backs Assad’s regime, has previously blocked approval for another aid route to Syria for the UN.
Image: Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 10, 2023. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah