ANKARA: The death toll in Turkiye from last month’s major earthquakes has risen to 48,448, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday, as authorities rush to set up container cities to house for the longer-term those left homeless by the disaster.
The combined death toll including those killed in Syria has climbed to more than 54,000.
Speaking at a news conference in Malatya, one of the provinces hit by the quakes, Soylu said the toll in Turkiye included 6,660 foreign nationals, mostly Syrians, adding that authorities were still trying to identify 1,615 victims.
The earthquake and subsequent powerful tremors injured more than 115,000 in Turkiye and left millions sheltering in tents or seeking to move to other cities.
President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to rebuild homes within a year but it will be many months before thousands can leave their tents or container housing, and daily queues for food, and move into permanent housing.
Soylu said the government plans to set up 115,585 containers for as many families in 239 sites across the affected region. He said 23 sites had been established so far and 21,000 containers were set up, with 85,000 people living in them.
Separately, a UN-appointed commission of inquiry said on Monday that the UN, the Syrian government and other actors are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians after the earthquake.
The allegations add to a growing chorus of criticism of the global body for its role in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that killed some 6,000 people in Syria, mostly in the opposition-held northwest near the Turkish border.
“Though there were many acts of heroism amid the suffering, we also witnessed a wholesale failure by the Government and the international community, including the UN, to rapidly direct life-saving support to Syrians in the most dire need,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, in a statement.
The parties involved also failed to agree on a pause in hostilities and to allow life-saving aid through any available route, leaving Syrians feeling “abandoned and neglected by those supposed to protect them, in the most desperate of times,” it said.