Late night on 20 February a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Antakya, Turkey, affecting areas already devastated by earthquakes two weeks ago. The earthquake was felt strongly across Hatay province and areas of north-west Syria, with media reporting more buildings collapsing in both countries and people running into the streets in panic. Coastal communities are being advised to seek refuge inland as sea levels rise, as a result of the shock.
DEC member charities, already working around the clock in the region to support the millions affected, have expressed their concern for vulnerable families impacted by the earthquakes. The earthquake is likely to cause further damage and loss of life in a region already facing considerable trauma.
Dan Stewart, from Save the Children UK, speaking from Hatay said:
“There are heart-breaking reports of yet more collapsed buildings and power outages, in a region where over 46,000 lives have already been lost and buildings destroyed. Children have been injured, lost loved ones and many were already showing signs of acute distress.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people have once again fled onto the streets in the bitter cold. Families who have already lost everything have just experienced another devastating blow. For children caught up in this new earthquake it must be like reliving a nightmare – a never ending nightmare.”
“The international community must urgently step-up support to help communities, local authorities and aid agencies respond without any delay to any prevent any further loss of life, injuries and trauma.”
Dr Wassel Aljerk, programme manager for DEC member charity Age International’s local partner SEMA, currently in Dana city in Harem district, near the Bab Alhawa border said:
“Many buildings have collapsed in Atareb, Salqin, Jindires and we are hearing of lots of injuries as people are jumping out of apartments in high- rise buildings as they are worried they would not be able to escape in time to save their lives.”
“We have had to evacuate our cholera hospital in Idlib because of risk of collapse due to lots of cracks in the buildings caused by the last earthquake.”
“Thankfully, there is only one patient and we have evacuated them and SEMA staff to our cholera centre in Atma. I am now checking the status of all our other health facilities in Syria and meanwhile I must evacuate my family again.”
Hisham Dirani, CEO at Violet, ActionAid’s local partner in northwest Syria said:
“In the aftermath of the earthquake we worked overnight yesterday to put up tents as we are expecting shelters will be overcrowded, as new people evacuated their homes to the streets and shelters as they are deemed safer.”
Racha Nasreddine, Regional Director of ActionAid Arab Region said:
“We are deeply saddened to hear that the very same communities on the frontline of this month’s devastating earthquake are once again facing catastrophe.”
“These are people whose lives were already ripped apart by the first earthquake and who will now once again be out on the streets without shelter. Women and girls, all too often the most affected by the earthquake, will once again bear the brunt of this fresh disaster.”
“Our colleagues on the ground are accounted for and are continuing to respond to the crisis. We are now rapidly assessing the situation to determine how to scale up our response.”
Donations to the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal have now reached over £95 million, since the appeal was launched on Thursday 9 February. The total includes £5 million matched by the UK Government through the UK Aid Match scheme.
Stay up to date with developments in Turkey and Syria, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter.com/decappeal