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Earthquake: Death Toll Surpasses 5,000, WHO Says It May Reach 20,000



The death toll from the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and northern Syria has surpassed 5,000.

On Monday, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and the devastating effect was felt in Syria, which shares border with Turkey.

On Tuesday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters that 800 people had been pulled from under rubble while there were 20,000 people in national rescue teams.

Tens of thousands of people were injured in the two nations. An untold number more were left homeless in cold winter conditions.

Oktay said rescue teams from 14 countries were already in Turkey and teams from 70 more were expected as the day progressed.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said up to 20,000 people may die from the earthquakes.

The first earthquake which sent tremors across the region is one of the strongest to hit Turkey in more than 100 years and it came as the middle eastern country is experiencing a snowstorm expected to continue until Thursday.

Catherine Smallwood, WHO senior emergency officer for Europe, said the fatality figure might reach eight-fold in the coming week.

Smallwood reportedly spoke when the death toll stood at around 2,600.

“There’s continued potential of further collapses to happen so we do often see in the order of eight-fold increases on the initial numbers,” AFP quoted her as saying.

“We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows.”

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