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US pledges $85m for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief

The top humanitarian aid agency in the US government has pledged $85m (£70m) in urgent life-saving relief for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding will go towards shelter, cold weather supplies, food, water and healthcare.

The moves comes as countries around the world send search crews and aid to the region, where over 20,000 have died.

Rescuers say supplies are needed now or more people will die from the cold.

In a statement on Thursday, USAID said it is also providing “hygiene and sanitation assistance to keep people safe and healthy”.

The agency’s director, Samantha Power, has already deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart), which is currently operating out of the Turkish cities of Adiyaman, Adana and Ankara.

The team consists of around 200 people, including disaster recovery experts, 159 search and rescue personnel and 12 dogs. The group has brought around 170,000lbs in equipment, including machines capable of moving rubble.

US troops are also in the region to help shuttle supplies around by helicopter amid the widespread destruction of roads, USAID deputy director Isobel Coleman told CBS News on Thursday.

“It’s cold. It’s winter. People need shelter. They need food, they need water, hygiene,” she said of the quake zone, speaking from Ukraine.

Governments around the world have pledged aid and rescuers to help in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

Canada has pledged C$10m ($7.4m, £6.1m) and offered to match an additional C$10m in donations.

Rescue crews have also been sent by India, Germany, South Korea, Israel and many other nations.

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that “a lot of people” are surviving “out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions”.

Source : BBC