Turkey earthquake Europe’s worst natural disaster in ‘a century’: WHO

This aerial view shows collapsed buildings in Hatay, southeastern Turkey, on February 8, 2023, two days after a strong earthquake struck the region. - Searchers were still pulling survivors on February 8 from the rubble of the earthquake that killed over 11,200 people in Turkey and Syria, even as the window for rescues narrowed. For two days and nights since the 7.8 magnitude quake, thousands of searchers have worked in freezing temperatures to find those still alive under flattened buildings on either side of the border. (Photo by DHA (Demiroren News Agency) / AFP) / - Turkey OUT

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that last week’s massive earthquake, the epicenter of which was in Turkey, constituted the “worst natural disaster” in 100 years in its Europe region, Agence France-Presse reported.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, followed by a major aftershock, on February 6 has now killed more than 35,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria.

“We are witnessing the worst natural disaster in the WHO European region for a century and we are still learning about its magnitude,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, told a press conference.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries, including Turkey. Syria is a member of the WHO’s neighboring Eastern Mediterranean region.

Kluge also said the health body had “initiated the largest deployment of emergency medical teams” in the 75-year history of the WHO European region.

“Twenty-two emergency medical teams have arrived in Turkey so far,” Kluge noted, adding they would integrate into “Turkey’s ongoing health response.”

The confirmed death toll following the earthquake stands at 35,331, as officials and medics said 31,643 people had died in Turkey and at least 3,688 in Syria.

The toll has barely changed in Syria for several days and is expected to rise.

“The needs are huge, increasing by the hour. Some 26 million people across both countries need humanitarian assistance,” Kluge said.

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