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Death toll in new Turkey-Syria earthquake rises to eight as U.S. pledges support for reconstruction

Turkish rescuers search for survivors after the latest earthquake in Hatay province. (February 21, 2023)
Turkish rescuers search for survivors after the latest earthquake in Hatay province. (February 21, 2023)

The death toll from a separate quake on the border between Turkey and Syria on Monday has now risen to at least eight, following a powerful earthquake that killed nearly 45,000 people two weeks ago.

Monday’s quake, which had a magnitude of 6.4, was centered in the town of Defne in Turkey’s Hatay province. This area has already been severely damaged by the powerful earthquake on February 6.

The new quake was felt in several countries, including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Islam, and Egypt. It was followed by another aftershock of magnitude 5.8.

A resident of Gaziantep told the media, “Suddenly, the building shook and I immediately ran down from the second floor. It shook very hard. It was sad. He said he was afraid to go back to the house because he lives alone.

Another resident of Gaziantep said he had just returned home after the February 6 earthquake. He said: “I came back yesterday and today we are on the street again. We don’t know what is at the end of us. “

Rescuers scoured several collapsed buildings in Hatay province, where people are believed to be buried. Six people were reported wounded in Aleppo, the official Syrian news agency said.

A UN convoy carrying aid entered Syria on Monday through a newly opened crossing in Al-Ra’ee. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN currently has three functioning border crossings into Syria.

He said the United Nations had sent 227 trucks to rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria and was preparing to send more through the three crossings.

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In Turkey, President Erdogan visited Hatay province earlier Monday, saying his government could begin construction of nearly 200,000 new homes in the province as soon as next month.

On Monday, Erdogan met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Blinken in Ankara. Blinken announced the day before that the United States promised an additional $100 million in aid to Turkey and Syria.

U.S. earthquake relief totals $185 million and will be provided to international and nongovernmental organizations already engaged in relief and recovery efforts from the massive earthquake.

“The United States is here to support you in your time of need, and we will always be with you as you recover and rebuild,” Blinken said at a joint news conference with Turkey’s foreign minister.

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