KAHRAMANMARAS, Turkey (BP) – Rescue efforts are still underway as the death toll continues to climb following Monday’s (Feb. 6) strong earthquakes near the border of Turkey and Syria. As of midday Tuesday (Feb. 7), government officials say more than 7,000 people have been killed by the quakes and aftershocks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that more than 13 million Turks, or more than 15 percent of the nation’s population, have been affected by the natural disaster.
According to the World Health Organization, up to another 10 million people have been impacted in Syria.
Government sources says 31,000 people have been injured in Turkey while more than 1,500 have been hurt in Syria.
Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, is working to assist in caring for survivors and comforting the grieving.
“Tragedies like this are difficult to fathom, but we pray and trust that God will use this to reveal His great love for the people of Turkey and Syria,” said Bryant Wright, Send Relief president.
Wright asks Christians to pray “…for doors to be opened for people’s spiritual need for the Gospel to be met as well.”
IMB President Paul Chitwood told Baptist Press that Send Relief workers are delivering “…blankets, water and heating supplies to victims trying to survive outdoors with temperatures dipping into the 20s.”
Forecasters say a winter storm is headed to the region that could frustrate recovery efforts over the next few days.
“With the death toll from the earthquake and aftershocks continuing to increase exponentially, so are the number of survivors dealing with unimaginable grief and loss,” Chitwood said. “The needs are overwhelming, but Southern Baptists’ response was immediate and will continue for as long as we have resources to meet the needs.”
Send Relief is working with local partners in Syria and Turkey to respond to the immediate needs. Send Relief partners distributed 1,000 blankets and 5,000 bottles of water in the first 24 hours, a spokesperson told Baptist Press. Workers are also distributing other emergency supplies to those who have been impacted and displaced from their homes.
Chitwood and Wright are urging Southern Baptists to pray and be generous in giving toward relief efforts.
Send Relief has set up a page on its website for donations toward the efforts.