WHO's Tedros pledges support after first visit to Turkey's quake zone

  • World
  • Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023

FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends an ACANU briefing on global health issues, including COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine in Geneva, Switzerland, December 14, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ADANA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) will support Ankara in its response to massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, as the death toll from the latest aftershock rose to two.

The massive earthquakes that struck Turkey's southeast and neighbouring Syria in the last three weeks have injured more than 108,000 in Turkey, leaving millions sheltering in tents or seeking to move to other cities.

The latest substantial aftershock, with a magnitude of 5.6, hit on Monday, killing two and injuring 140 people, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said, adding that 32 people had been rescued from the rubble.

Turkey is "doing its best" but still needs international support to help the victims of the earthquake, Tedros said, describing the destruction as "really massive" for modern history.

In a news conference alongside Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in Antakya, one of the most affected cities, Tedros said the two had discussed the health situation in camps.

"These are like respiratory infections, GI infections, especially mental health problems - because many people are really traumatized - and people who need rehabilitation services, especially orthopaedic service," he said.

"From WHO side, we will support in any way possible based on the issues observed or documented and based on the priorities of the ministry," Tedros added.

More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartmentscollapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey by the disaster,the worst in the country's modern history.

President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to rebuild homes within a year but it will still be many months before thousands can leave tents or shipping containers and daily queues for food and move into permanent housing, key to gaining the sense ofnormalcy and safety they lost.

The earthquakes have struck months ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held by June, which present the biggest political challenge to Erdogan in his two-decade rule.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Birsen Altayli and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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