Syrian family of seven die in fire after surviving earthquake in Turkey

Syrian family of seven die in fire after surviving earthquake in Turkey

Five Syrian children and their parents died in a house fire in central Turkey on Friday, having moved there after surviving last week’s earthquake.

The family had gone to Konya region from the Nurdagi district of Gaziantep, after the southern Turkish city was badly damaged by the February 6 quake that hit Turkey and Syria.

Munir, 45, and Meryem, 43, and their children Viam, 13, Riham, 13, Seyma, eight, Saddam, six, and Yusuf, four, had moved in with relatives in Konya, Anadolu state news agency reported, without giving the family’s surnames.

The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude quake has now exceeded 41,000 across Turkey and Syria.

“We saw the fire but we could not intervene. A girl was rescued from the window,” resident Muhsin Cakir told Anadolu.

Konya’s chief public prosecutor’s office said the house was a single-storey property with 14 people living there.

“Seven people survived the fire and are continuing their treatment, and seven people died,” the prosecutor’s office said.

An investigation is continuing by a deputy chief prosecutor and two public prosecutors, it added.

Turkey is home to nearly four million Syrians.

Many of them live in south-eastern regions devastated by last week’s disaster, which has claimed the lives of more than 38,000 people in Turkey and nearly 3,700 in Syria, according to official figures.

There is no official figure for the number of people displaced in Turkey’s side of the disaster region, which is home to some 14 million people.

Nearly two weeks after the earthquake, many are still sleeping in tents, factories, train cars and greenhouses.

The Turkish government and dozens of aid groups have launched a massive relief effort. The UN launched a $1 billion appeal on Thursday to help more than five million survivors.

The government said on Wednesday that more than 5,400 shipping containers have been deployed as shelters and more than 200,000 tents dispatched.

In the mountain villages of Kahramanmaras province, locals are battling to keep warm during the bitterly cold nights, AP reported.

Buyuknacar, a village just a few kilometres from the epicentre, was severely damaged and 158 people were killed.

Two days after the earthquake, a military helicopter brought supplies and on the fifth day the road was cleared.

Villagers said they feared icy conditions in the mountains would lead to further deaths.

Umut Sitil, 45, told AP: “Our basic need is, first, containers. Tents won’t work here. People in tents will freeze to death.”

On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 2.2 million people had left the disaster zone.

Of those, he said, the housing needs of 1.6 million had been met, including some 890,000 people placed in public facilities, such as student dormitories, and 50,000 in hotels.

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