News ID: 112905
Publish Date : 28 February 2023 - 21:43

WHO Pledges Support After First Visit to Turkey’s Quake Zone

ADANA (Reuters/Xinhua) – The World Health Organization (WHO) will support Ankara in its response to massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, as the death toll from the latest aftershock rose to two.
The massive earthquakes that struck Turkey’s southeast and neighboring Syria in the last three weeks have injured more than 108,000 in Turkey, leaving millions sheltering in tents or seeking to move to other cities.
The latest substantial aftershock, with a magnitude of 5.6, hit on Monday, killing two and injuring 140 people, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said, adding that 32 people had been rescued from the rubble.
Turkey is “doing its best” but still needs international support to help the victims of the earthquake, Tedros said, describing the destruction as “really massive” for modern history.
In a news conference alongside Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in Antakya, one of the most affected cities, Tedros said the two had discussed the health situation in camps.
“These are like respiratory infections, GI infections, especially mental health problems — because many people are really traumatized — and people who need rehabilitation services, especially orthopaedic service,” he said.
“From WHO side, we will support in any way possible based on the issues observed or documented and based on the priorities of the ministry,” Tedros added.
More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey by the disaster, the worst in the country’s modern history.
President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to rebuild homes within a year but it will still be many months before thousands can leave tents or shipping containers and daily queues for food and move into permanent housing, key to gaining the sense of normalcy and safety they lost.
The earthquakes have struck months ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held by June, which present the biggest political challenge to Erdogan in his two-decade rule.
The Turkish urbanization minister said on Tuesday that the country planned to build new buildings to replace some 1.5 million risky ones in Istanbul for possible strong earthquakes in the future.
These residential buildings would be built in two designated areas on the Anatolian and European sides of the city, Murat Kurum told reporters in southern Hatay province.
The move falls into the urban transformation project launched by the Turkish government in the quake-prone Marmara region, the country’s industrial powerhouse in the northwest.