"As with most significant earthquakes that leave much destruction in their wake, the negative impact is beginning to unfold precipitously," said Patrick J. Melancon, BGR's managing director of disaster response and training. "We are at a phase where other factors are moving the incident from simple needs for food, shelter, water and medical care to a somewhat complicated humanitarian crisis.
Melancon noted, "The food logistics chain is normally disrupted in an event like this. Transportation of food becomes difficult due to destruction, increased traffic and panic buying from local suppliers. In essence, the available food supplies are quickly absorbed, and the distribution to those who are severely in need is hampered."
The fact that winter weather is about to descend on the area raises additional concerns, Melancon said.
"With winter on the heels of this time period, shelter from the natural elements is also a critical issue that needs to be addressed," Melancon said. "The government has decided to accept aid from outside of the country and a large portion of that aid will be in the form of tents and other temporary shelter supplies. Over time, things will get better as the situation stabilizes, logistical chains are reestablished and longer-term needs come to the surface."
The death toll from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake has risen to 570, with an estimated 2,500 injured, according to news reports. About 5,700 buildings were ruined and thousands of people have been left homeless. The government reported 187 people have been rescued alive from rubble.
The hardest-hit area was Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 near the Iranian border, which lies on one of Turkey's most earthquake-prone zones, the AP reported. The provincial capital, Van, about 55 miles to the south, also sustained substantial damage.
Melancon called for prayer for both survivors and those trying to help them.
"Teams trained by Baptist Global Response continue to respond to the crisis. These teams are trained to respond to real needs as they become evident and are able to sort through many of the intricate issues surrounding such an incident," Melancon said. "Our teams are working long hours, dealing with the tragedy personally, and at the same time attempting to make a real difference in the lives of the survivors. People who care can always help, wherever they are, by praying for people in need."
Compiled by Baptist Press senior writer and assistant editor Mark Kelly.
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