Death toll in Turkey and Syria earthquakes nears 3,000; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declares week-long national mourning

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The death toll in today’s devastating earthquakes in Tukey and Syria is reported to be inching closer to 3,000 as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan termed it the worst disaster in decades. Erdogan said that Monday’s human disaster was the worst his country had faced since 1939, when the Erzincan earthquake in eastern Turkey killed nearly 33,000 people.

According to the BBC, a rescue operation is underway across much of southern Turkey and northern Syria. First, the region was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Gaziantep in the early hours of Monday while people were asleep. This was followed by a new 7.5-magnitude tremor at around 13:30 local time, which officials said was ‘not an aftershock’.

Turkey’s disaster agency said that close to 2,000 people were killed in the country alone after the first quake, and more than 5,300 were wounded. According to the news agency AFP, Syrian authorities are reporting close to 1,000 dead and more than 2,000 injured.

World leaders have pledged to send aid after Turkey issued an international appeal for help. CNN reported that in addition to US personnel on the ground, the US was ‘in the process of deploying additional teams, including two 79-person urban search and rescue teams to support Turkish search and rescue efforts.’

Also Read: More than 600 killed in Turkey, Syria as 7.8 earthquake cause widespread devastations

US National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said, “This is a very fluid situation – things are moving, conversations are happening.”

Meanwhile, the Ghana Football Association has asked fans to ‘pray’ for former Chelsea and Newcastle forward, Christian Atsu, who has reportedly been trapped under rubble caused by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey.

“We pray for Ghana International Christian Atsu and victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. We continue with our efforts to establish contact with officials of Hataspor and the Turkish Football Federation, considering the difficult situation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Christian Atsu and our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria. We remain hopeful for positive news.”

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