Alwaght- The death toll from Monday's 7.8-magnitude that rocked Turkey and Syria has passed 17,500.
The death toll in Turkey is now 14,351, Vice President Fuat Oktay said during an address to Parliament. Syrian officials have put the death toll at 3,162 so far.
The series of powerful tremors in southern Turkey and northern Syria flattened thousands of buildings and caused severe damage to infrastructure. Rescuers in both nations, including those sent by foreign nations to assist in the response, have been in a race against time to clear the rubble, in search of survivors. Cold weather adds urgency to their work, making the need to provide shelter to survivors a matter of life and death.
Syrian nation’s suffering is more complicated as the nation is under inhuman sanctions imposed by the US. Syria’s ambassador to Moscow Bashar al-Jaafari said on Thursday the US sanctions are hampering relief work in quake-stricken areas of the Arab country, saying they are “a serious obstacle” to the flow of aid to Syria.
The Syrian diplomat also lambasted the West’s discrimination against the Syrian people, saying more aid shipments are sent to Turkey than Syria.
“The injured need the same help everywhere, and the people affected by the earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria are no different. The important thing is that even with regard to humanitarian aid, there is discrimination, not morality,” he said.
The World Health Organization has estimated that in the long run, the disaster may impact as many as 23 million people, five million of whom are already in a vulnerable state. Syria is already suffering from a decade-long armed conflict, which has degraded its healthcare system and put some parts of the country under self-rule.