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‘Terrifying’ prediction over earthquake death toll made by UN aid chief

Sky News has learned that the death toll from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria could more than double according to a UN aid chief.

After the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday, and multiple aftershocks, more than 25,000 people have been confirmed to have died.

Martin Griffiths stated that he expects tens to thousands more deaths when he speaks to Kay Burley from Sky in Adana, Turkey.

Turkey-Syria latest

Image After the earthquake, the scene of destruction in Kahramanmaras (central Turkey)

Griffiths, UN’s co-ordinator for emergency relief, stated: “It is difficult to accurately estimate as we need to get underneath the rubble, but I’m certain it will double, or more.

“That’s terrifying. Nature is striking back in a very harsh way.

He said, “It’s shocking… that these mountains are still holding people, some still alive.”

“We haven’t really started to count the dead.”

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Managing the aftermath of the earthquake

As the hope for people trapped in Turkey and Syria’s wreckage wane, Griffiths stated that rescue efforts are now at their end.

He said that 72 hours was the ideal time for rescues.

“But they just pulled out someone alive two hours ago. It must have been difficult to decide when to end the rescue phase and move on to the next phase, which will also have its challenges.

Although Griffiths was kind enough to praise the international response to Turkey’s need for aid as “phenomenal” and “heartening”, there have been stark differences in the offers made to Syria.

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“They just can’t deal” with the number of dead

The country has been ravaged by civil war for years and the condemnation of its ruling regim’s treatment of its citizens, making it difficult to get aid in.

Access to northern Syria is likely to be difficult for aid agencies, as it is a large part controlled by rebel groups that have been fighting the regime.

Continue reading:

“Children living under rubble are not terrorists”

What countries have offered help?

“Nightmare scenario”: More than five million people are homeless

Griffiths stated that it was “much harder for [Syria]” to deal with this tragedy due to the loss of so many years.

He said: “The terrible truth about Syria from humanitarian perspectives is that the needs for the people of Syria increase each year, and despite generous financing, we fail to fulfill those needs.” The number of people living in poverty in Syria has risen to 90%.

The White Helmets’ emergency volunteer group leader has criticised UN’s response to Syria. He stated that rebel-held areas have not received any aid since the earthquake.

The UN is not authorized to provide aid into Syria via other border crossings as per a UN Security Council resolution.

The council will discuss next week whether it should allow aid to be provided to rebel-held Syria via more than one Turkish border crossing. A decision is expected by the end of the week.


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