African leaders offered condolences and pledged their assistance, as rescuers in Turkey and Syria continued to search through the rubble for survivors following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that leveled wide swaths of the region.
The initial quake, with an epicenter near Nurdaği, was followed by dozens of aftershocks that leveled buildings and trapped people in the rubble. The death toll had surpassed more than 3,800 by early Tuesday, with World Health Organization officials warning that the severity of the destruction could lead to 20,000 deaths or more.
The earthquake struck at 4:17 a.m. local time Monday and was one of the worst to hit the region in decades. The violent quake was felt as far away as Libya and Egypt, according to reports submitted to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). It was widely felt by people in Israel, Jordan, Cypress and Lebanon.
“Africa stands in unwavering solidarity and sorrow with the government and people of Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquake,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission.
Egypt has committed aid to Syrians in that country’s hard-hit northwest, where years of war have left people and infrastructure vulnerable to catastrophe. The region is home to 1.8 million internally displaced persons, many living in tents in crowded conditions as overnight temperatures drop below freezing.
Egypt also promised aid to Turkey as dozens of countries around the globe send resources to assist with the effort.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa sent his country’s condolences, expressing “deep sadness at the large-scale loss of life and extent of injuries.” He said the South Africa-based Gift of the Givers organization is headed to Turkey and Syria to assist with the response.
Image: Syria Civil Defence
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