What happens after the strongest earthquake in 10 years?

Over 17,000 dead, Turkey blocks Twitter due to criticism of Erdogan, and humanitarian aid cannot be delivered to Syria.

According to the latest data, more than 17500 people have died due to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The Turkish authorities on February 9 reported 14351 fatalities (another nearly 64 thousand people were injured). In Syria, according to government and human rights defenders information, 3192 people were killed (at least five thousand more people have been injured). The World Health Organization estimated that about 23 million people have been affected by this earthquake in one way or another; among them 1.4 million are children.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake was the largest in the world in the last 10 years. According to Turkish authorities, the epicenter was located near Pazarcık, in Kahramanmaraş province, approximately 100 kilometers from the border of Syria. After the earthquake, over 1,200 aftershocks were recorded. The strongest one had a magnitude of 7.6 and occurred several hours after the initial shockwave.

More than 80 thousand people from 19 countries have gone to aid Syria and Turkey. However, there are still not enough rescuers, and their work is made more difficult by cold and snow. After the earthquake, it has already been more than 72 hours which are considered critically important for finding survivors, but people continue to be rescued from under the rubble. So in Kakhramanmaraş city a nine-year-old girl and her father were pulled out from under the rubble after 80 hours. Another rescue story that was reported by world media - in Syria a living baby was taken out of the debris with his umbilical cord attached to his dead mother as a result of an earthquake.

The government of Turkey has been criticized for its slow response and poor quality of building after the earthquake which, according to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was felt across hundreds of square kilometers where 13.5 million people live. "Of course there are shortcomings. It is impossible to be prepared for such a disaster", Erdoğan said. The media notes that the earthquake may threaten his reelection in presidential elections in May.

A further complicated situation in Syria, a country which has been at war for more than 10 years, has been brought on by an earthquake. Both the areas controlled by Bashar Al-Assad's government and those held by opposition forces have experienced the disaster. The north-west of the country, already facing humanitarian crisis due to infrastructure damage, fuel shortage and water deficit leading to cholera outbursts was especially hard hit.

Now a shortage of heavy machinery for clearing rubble has been added to this, and practically no humanitarian aid: the roads destroyed by the earthquake are not the only hindrance but also border crossings with Turkey closed due to sanctions. The result was that the first UN humanitarian convoy reached Assad-controlled areas outside government control only on 9 February. "What is happening in Syria is an emergency within an emergency," said International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization.

In turn, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, expressed hope that sanctions imposed on Syria would be reviewed so that residents could get help, adding that the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by earthquake will take "at least 10 years".

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