Turkish-Syrian tragedy


THE worst earthquake disaster in decades in the region struck southern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, killing thousands of people with the death toll expected to surge as rescuers search the vast piles of rubble. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Monday’s twin temblors the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, which killed about 33,000 people.

The first magnitude 7.7 quake, centred in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Kahramanmaras, brought down whole apartment blocks in several cities and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war. Freezing winter weather added to the plight of the many thousands injured or left homeless while hampering efforts to find survivors.

Our hearts go with the people of Turkiye and Syria in this hour of trial and tribulation and we stand firmly with them in bracing the tragedy with courage and fortitude. One can understand the plight of the people in the devastated regions where infrastructure stands collapsed, gas and electricity supplies are cut off, reliable shelters are not enough and freezing temperature is adding to the woes of the affected people and multiplies the hardships of the rescuers and aid workers. However, given the resilience shown by people of Turkiye and Syria on different occasions, we are confident that they would overcome the challenge in a satisfactory manner, especially when they have committed, dedicated, sincere and visionary leadership.

The Foreign Office has reflected the feelings of the people of Pakistan in expressing the confidence that both the countries would overcome this natural calamity with characteristic grit and determination. Similar sentiments have also been expressed by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the country has also expressed its readiness to offer every kind of assistance required to help brace the challenge. Turkiye always stood by Pakistan and extended moral, political and material support during difficult times like floods and earthquakes.

A plan-load of relief assistance has already been dispatched to Turkiye but we are sure that the Government and people of Pakistan would remain in the forefront of efforts to alleviate sufferings of the affected communities in the two countries. International community needs to pay special attention to the quake-hit regions of Syria as these are in a conflict zone and people there were already facing extreme difficulties of different sorts.