Fears Türkiye-Syria death toll will double in race against time to rescue trapped survivors

Rescue teams and aid agencies are in a race against time to rescue survivors across Türkiye and Syria. Australians are being urged to support their efforts by donating to Caritas' earthquake appeal. 

The death toll from last week’s two earthquakes has now surpassed 36,000 across Türkiye and Syria, with thousands more injured and fears that the numbers may reach as high as 50,000.

Rescue teams and aid agencies are in a race against time to rescue survivors and provide aid in freezing temperatures. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes and are currently staying in temporary shelters including schools, churches and mosques.

“The devastation after this earthquake is massive. Families have been separated, and they have no idea if their loved ones have survived or if they will be rescued in time. Everyone - women, children, the elderly are pitching in at the moment, trying to find loved ones and help their neighbours so they can survive another day,” Sally Thomas, Caritas Australia’s Middle East Humanitarian Lead, said.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in survival mode right now. We’re hearing stories of people who are too scared to stay in their houses because they keep collapsing. They’re just trying to get anything they can to survive in the freezing nights – blankets, hot meals and clean water.”

Survivors of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria urgently need aid such as food, shelter, blankets, and clean water. Clean water and sanitation are also growing needs, as waterborne diseases will quickly spread without clean water and latrines.

The situation in hard-hit Northwest Syria is incredibly challenging. The earthquakes have struck communities already devastated by 12 years of conflict and displacement, which were already reliant on humanitarian assistance for their daily survival.

“It is going to be a long and extremely difficult road to recovery for many in northern Syria. I remember visiting Haiti two years after the massive earthquake there to see the same families I’d met two years earlier, still living in shanties on top of the rubble. We are looking at the very real possibility of this happening in northern Syria as well if we don’t respond now,” Sally said.  

Caritas Australia’s partner Caritas Syria is distributing food baskets, blankets, mattresses, drinking water and hygiene kits in Aleppo, Lattakia and Hama. Caritas Turkey has set up an emergency hotline for survivors and are distributing food, winter clothing and blankets.

Your generous support can help provide emergency relief to help families recover and rebuild from disaster.

Visit www.caritas.org.au/syria-turkey or call 1800 024 413 toll free to provide much needed support to Turkiye and Syria by donating to our earthquake appeal.

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Caritas Australia

Caritas Australia, a Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, is part of a global network that spans over 200 countries and territories. For over 110 years, Caritas has worked towards the creation of a just world. In 1964, Caritas began in Australia.