Turkey

Turkey earthquake: health infrastructure intact, WHO supporting emergency response

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At least 40 people have died and over 1600 were injured following a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey, which took place at 20:55 local time on Friday, 24 January 2020. Of those injured, around 100 are undergoing treatment and the rest have already been discharged.

In addition to the human toll, hundreds of buildings in Elazig and Malatya provinces either collapsed or sustained damage. Around 1200 families have moved into temporary shelters in the form of tents. Search-and-rescue teams from Turkey’s health and interior ministries have rescued around 45 people from the rubble. The search continues for any people who may remain trapped under the debris.

“I am saddened to see the devastation caused by the earthquake in Elazig province,” said Dr Piroska Östlin, WHO Regional Director for Europe a.i. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of Turkey for the loss of lives. I wish a full recovery to the injured. As always, the WHO Regional Office for Europe is by your side and stands ready to provide any support you may need.”

On his way to the affected areas, Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative in Turkey, added: “Turkey’s Ministry of Health is responding to this devastating earthquake swiftly and effectively. On behalf of WHO in Turkey, I am sending my condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and wish a speedy recovery for the injured citizens of Elazig and Malatya.”

At the request of Turkey’s Ministry of Health, WHO deployed 2 emergency experts to the affected area on Friday. The experts supported emergency health coordination, facilitated rapid health-needs assessments, and enabled critical information management.

While critical life-saving operations are underway, WHO and health partners have already initiated the next steps for recovery. These include watching for communicable diseases, particularly in any overcrowded areas, providing mental-health and psychosocial support, and ensuring any chronic conditions are treated.

WHO is committed to assisting Turkey in identifying immediate needs and ensuring a swift response, and stands ready to provide support to the people and Government of Turkey during and after this emergency.