Turkey quakes’ death toll rising, Southern Baptists responding

Rescue efforts were underway as the death toll continued to climb following strong earthquakes on Feb. 6 near the border of Turkey and Syria. As of Feb. 9, the confirmed death toll was approaching 12,000.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that more than 13 million Turks, or more than 15 percent of the nation’s population, had been affected by the natural disaster.

According to the World Health Organization, up to another 10 million people were impacted in Syria.

Government sources said 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, was assisting 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 were delivering “blankets, water and heating supplies to victims trying to survive outdoors with temperatures dipping into the 20s.”

“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.”

Working with local partners in Syria and Turkey to respond to the immediate needs, Send Relief distributed 1,000 blankets and 5,000 bottles of water in the first 24 hours, a spokesperson told Baptist Press. Workers were 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.

— Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee.