Brussels, Feb 8 – Flags of the 30 NATO member states at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels flew at half-staff to honour the nearly 8,000 people who lost their lives in the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria earlier this week.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday, the 30-member alliance, of which Turkey is a member, said: “All flags at NATO Headquarters are at half-mast today in solidarity with our ally Turkey.”
NATO also outlined its contributions to relief efforts.
“Over 1,400 emergency response personnel from more than twenty NATO allies and partners, including invitees Finland and Sweden, are deploying to Turkey, helping to respond to the devastating earthquakes which struck the country,” the post read.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had said that he was in contact with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, adding that “NATO allies are mobilising support now”.
NATO and its partners are providing assistance to Turkey through seismic experts, search and rescue teams with dogs, freighters, structural engineers, and medical personnel and supplies, according to an official statement.
As of Wednesday morning, Turkey has reported a total of 5,894 deaths with 34,810 injured, while Syria’s toll has increased to 2,032, with nearly 3,000 injured persons.
The devastating 7.8 tremor struck Turkey’s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4.17 a.m. on Monday morning, which was followed by a 6.4-magnitude temblor a few minutes later in Gaziantep province.
At around 1.30 p.m, a third 7.5-magnitude tremor hit Kahramanmaras.
Nearly 70% of Syrian population was in need of humanitarian aid before quake: UN
A UN joint statement has said that nearly 70 per cent of the population was in need of humanitarian assistance even before the massive 7.8-magnitude quake struck the country devastated by the 12-year prolonged crisis.
The statement was issued on Tuesday by the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria, El-Mostafa Benlamlih, and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi.
“We express our sincere condolences to the victims’ families and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. We stand in solidarity with the people of Syria and Turkey during this time of need. Urgent support is needed to be able to respond to all those who have been affected in this terrible tragedy,” Benlamlih was quoted as saying.
Syria’s ongoing crisis has destroyed much of its public infrastructure and left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The war-torn nation is also grappling with an economic collapse and a severe water, electricity and fuel shortages, said the statement.
“We appeal to all donor partners to provide the assistance necessary to alleviate suffering,” said Hadi.
“This tragedy will have a devastating impact on many already vulnerable families who struggle to provide for their loved ones on a daily basis,” he added.
The UN and humanitarian partners have said that they are currently focusing on immediate needs, including food, shelter, non-food items and medicine.
In Syria, at least 2,032 people have died and another 3,849 people have been injured as a result of the devastating earthquake that struck on Monday.
Aleppo, Lattakia, Hama, Idlib and Tartus were the most affected.