Canada is sending $10 million in aid to help with the response to the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
At least 5,000 people have died and thousands more injured after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake — and a subsequent earthquake of nearly equal strength — reduced homes and other buildings in the region to rubble.
“After yesterday’s devastating earthquakes, we’re providing $10 million in immediate aid to the people of Türkiye and Syria — and we’ll continue to provide support as the situation evolves,” Trudeau said in a tweet issued Tuesday morning.
“Our partners are already distributing food, emergency fuel, and shelter items.”
Canada is currently conducting a “needs assessment” to determine what the next steps should be, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said as he left a cabinet meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday, and the $10-million figure represents an “initial” response.
“We’re also looking at various other options — medical teams, heavy urban search and rescue — and I know that also Minister Anand is looking at options for the (Disaster Assistance Response Team) DART as well,” Sajjan said.
Right now, however, no Canadian teams have been sent — but “nothing” is off the table, the minister said.
Canada’s “moral support” on the issue is “very strong,” Kerim Uras, the Turkish ambassador to Canada told Global News following the announcement.
“The support is really very heartwarming,” he said. “But we do need more help and the cold is working against us.
The announcement is “good news,” says Dalia Al-Awqati, head of humanitarian affairs with Save the Children Canada.
But, echoing Uras, she said the relief efforts are “probably going to need to see more” from Canada.
“The scale of the disaster is not known at the moment. The numbers of casualties have more than doubled in the past 24 hours,” Al-Awqati said.
“We look forward to continued commitment and support from the government of Canada to ensure that both relief efforts — immediate relief efforts and other short term and longer term assistance — is provided to the people of Turkey and Syria.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the total number of deaths in Turkey had passed 3,500, with some 22,000 people injured. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the country’s 10 southern provinces hit by the quake.
The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed over 800, with some 1,400 injured, according to the Health Ministry. The country’s rebel-held northwest also saw at least 800 die, according to the White Helmets, the emergency organization leading rescue operations, with more than 2,200 injured.
But the disaster is still “unfolding before our very eyes,” Uras said — and time is not on their side.
“If there are people under the rubble, there’s a limited time they can hold out,” he said.
“We’re not giving up on them.”
The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometres (11 miles). Hours later, another quake, likely triggered by the first, struck more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) away with 7.5 magnitude.
Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News, is supporting the Humanitarian Coalition in its appeal to help victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Donations can be made online.