Editor’s Note: Since this story was first published, the death toll has risen to more than 21,000 people as rescuers continue to search for survivors, according to the latest reports.
Baptist disaster relief volunteers are responding to a massive earthquake that claimed more than 5,000 lives in Turkey and Syria, according to media reports. One source on the ground shared with The Baptist Paper that the death toll could rise to as many as 20,000.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake — followed by aftershocks and a second quake measuring 7.5 — injured thousands of people across southern Turkey and north central Syria on Feb. 6.
Southern Baptists are working to respond to needs in the region through Send Relief, noted Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board,
“Turkey’s disaster agency has appealed for help from the international community as it conducts search and rescue operations, and we thank the Lord that he is allowing Send Relief’s international relief team to respond as initial needs are assessed,” Chitwood said.
‘The devastation cannot be put into words’
Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief, urged prayer for those affected by the earthquake and for all who are responding to their needs.
“The devastation cannot be put into words, and we are praying for the first responders, as well as the churches and others who will be bringing relief during this tragic and difficult time,” Wright said.
Meanwhile, Hungarian Baptist Aid mobilized a team to assist with relief efforts.
The Baptist World Alliance reported online, “Baptist church leaders in Turkey are gathering in Izmir to mobilize response efforts, and leaders in Lebanon are working with Syrian Baptists to respond to needs in the communities impacted.
“The Baptist church in Aleppo has sustained significant damage, and Baptist World Aid is working in collaboration with European Baptist Federation to ascertain details regarding current needs.”
The IMB shared the following prayer requests:
— Please pray that God will use search and rescue efforts to find all the trapped survivors.
— Pray for protection of life and God’s mercy in any subsequent aftershocks.
— Pray for the Lord’s comfort and nearness to local believers.
— Ask that the Lord will use this catastrophe for the spread of His gospel and the eternal salvation of many.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Ken Camp and originally published by the Baptist Standard, with reporting by The Baptist Paper.