UN officials visit quake-hit Turkey and Syria

Unocha and WHO chiefs arrive as death toll crosses 24,000

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Live updates: Follow the latest on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

The heads of the UN humanitarian agency and the World Health Organisation visited earthquake-hit areas of Turkey and Syria on Saturday as the death toll from Monday's 7.8 magnitude tremor climbed past 24,000.

Martin Griffiths, head of the UN office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, met survivors in Kahramanmaras, one of several provinces devasted by the earthquake in south-eastern Turkey, while WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived in Syria's northern city of Aleppo and visited hospitals where some of the injured were being treated.

“We have brought in 35 tonnes of vital medical equipment needed to handle the basic needs of those injured from the quake,” the Syrian state news agency Sana quoted Dr Tedros as saying.

Mr Griffiths said he heard stories of the shock and devastation suffered by families in Kahramanmaras. "We stand with them in this crisis and will ensure they receive the support they need," he wrote on Twitter.

The UN has so far allocated a total of $50 million to deal with the emergency response and relief efforts in Syria and Turkey.

Six lorries of UN aid entered the opposition-held Idlib region in north-west Syria from Turkey on Thursday as search and rescue operations continued. On Friday, 14 lorries carrying electric heaters, tents and blankets crossed into Idlib, the International Organisation for Migration said.

The Syrian government on Friday said it would allow aid to be sent into the rebel-held region from government-held areas after appeals from the UN. Planeloads of relief supplies have been arriving at the airport in the capital, Damascus, from countries around the world including the UAE.

The White Helmets, a volunteer civil defence group operating in rebel-held areas, have also asked for earthmoving equipment to help recover people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Over five days have passed since the quake hit but rescuers continued to find survivors in the rubble.

They included a family of five in Nurdag, in Turkey's Gaziantep province, and a 70-year-old woman in Kahramanmaras.

Updated: February 11, 2023, 1:07 PM