Edinburg, TX - Just two weeks after the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, two more earthquakes with 6.4 and 5.8 magnitudes just shook the region, terrifying people once again. UOSSM initial reports show at least 94 injuries and several collapsed buildings in northwest Syria. Most of the injuries are a result of people panicking, many are even jumping from buildings. Those numbers could continue to rise as the earthquake hit at night. Initial reports in Turkey indicate at least three deaths and over 123 injuries, those numbers are expected to rise as well. The region has been experiencing hundreds of aftershocks since the initial earthquake. UOSSM staff are already receiving and treating victims.
The earthquake on February 6 has killed at least 46,000 people, injured tens of thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and caused the collapse of thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria. Many more buildings could collapse after these earthquakes as a result of weakened foundations and structures from the previous earthquake and aftershocks.
UOSSM has been on the ground since the earthquake hit providing emergency medical care to the victims through its hospitals and healthcare facilities, medical and mental health care services through its mobile clinics integrated with mental health, and transported and referred victims as needed in the hardest hit areas.
In addition, through our local partners on the ground, we have helped with rescue and recovery, provided shelter, food, clothes, and non-food items.
The state on the ground is in dire need of immediate and increased global, humanitarian support to allow local humanitarian actors to deliver essential assistance. Currently, three crossing points are authorized for humanitarian aid between Turkey and Syria. Collective solidarity is needed to ensure an immediate and effective response in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
Dr. Anas Alkassem, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of UOSSM Canada was already on the ground in a medical mission in Syria. As he was visiting Aqrabat Hospital the earthquakes hit saying in a live video, “We are at the Aqrabat hospital at the moment, we felt the terrible shock, a quake that brought fear to all patients and staff. All staff and patients are safe, yet we had to evacuate patients including children to the outdoor space. We hope there will be no injuries and casualties, yet we are waiting, prepared, and ready to receive cases.”
Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “Our hearts go out to the people of Syria and Turkey who have been living in a constant state of fear, panic, and heartbreak since February 6. We call on the international community to remember that these people have been affected both physically and mentally and will need support from the world as they try to heal and rebuild. We pray for the safety of everyone in both countries, this is so tragic.”