Tragedy After Tragedy

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Rescuers continued into Tuesday morning combing structures reduced to rubble in their search for survivors from Monday’s massive earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people in Turkey and Syria, in one of the largest quakes to hit the area in hundreds of years, the Guardian reported.

Turkish officials said the quake of 7.8 magnitude hit the country’s southeast in the early hours of Monday, adding that a second one – with a magnitude of 7.6 – occurred a few hours later after a number of aftershocks. As rescuers struggle against sub-zero temperatures, the World Health Organisation said the death toll could pass 20,000 in the coming days.

Authorities have declared a level 4 state of emergency that calls for international assistance and the mobilization of all national forces. The death toll in Turkey has topped 3,419 people and is expected to rise, they noted, with 5,775 buildings confirmed as collapsed.

Meanwhile, Syrian officials said there were more than 1,600 killed in government-held areas and opposition-controlled parts of Syria, which has been plagued by civil war for more than a decade.

A number of foreign leaders quickly offered support, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who maintains diplomatic relations with both Turkey and the Syrian government, CNN reported.

Turkey is located in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones: In 1999, huge earthquakes struck the country’s northwest, killing around 18,000 people.

Analysts said the catastrophe will have an effect on the upcoming Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections. They explained that the situation will serve as a major test for the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid unfavorable economic concerns and rising prices, Al Jazeera noted.

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