devastating | 

26 workers from Irish aid agency GOAL have died in Turkey-Syria earthquake

Tanaiste Micheál Martin offers his condolences to GOAL and the families of the workers

Aerial photo showing the destruction in a city in southern Turkey (IHA via AP)© Uncredited


Irish-based aid agency GOAL says the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have claimed the lives of 26 of its workers – the most deaths it has ever experienced from a single disaster.

The news comes as the death toll from the two earthquakes to strike the region last Monday now stands at more than 20,000 – leading Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last night to declare it “the disaster of the century.”

As rescue workers made a final push on Thursday to find any survivors, GOAL said its teams are “still working around the clock to account for a number of staff still unaccounted for while also supporting the overall search and rescue mission.”

“Accounting for the safety of each and every member of staff has been the utmost priority since last Monday.

"But this has presented significant challenges given the immediate movement of staff to find shelter and safety following the earthquake, the loss of electricity and power for telecommunications, damaged and completely unpassable roads, and the absolute geography of destruction and desolation across the vast region,” GOAL said in a statement last night.

“To say it has been a profoundly difficult week for the GOAL Teams in Türkiye and Syria cannot be overstated.

"Because of the sheer geography of destruction, and GOAL’s long-term presence in the communities so severely impacted, the scale of loss is far beyond anything we could have ever imagined,” said CEO Siobhan Walsh.

“GOAL staff across the region have also lost family members, sustained life-altering injuries, and lost their homes. Meanwhile, as part of GOAL’s humanitarian response to support communities most affected by the earthquake, teams in Türkiye and Syria have mobilised responses to assess needs on the ground, whilst prioritising the immediate restarting of key humanitarian aid programmes that deliver shelter, access to food, clean water and health and social support,” the statement added.

Tanaiste Micheál Martin has offered his condolences to GOAL and the families of the workers.

“The Goal staff members who lost their lives were carrying out vital humanitarian work to support the people of north-west Syria, who have suffered unimaginably over recent years," he said.

"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, as well as to all the Goal teams around the world, for whom this will come as a devastating blow."

The agency has a team of 3,500 personnel in 14 countries worldwide and “never in the organisation’s history, has GOAL experienced the loss of colleagues on such a scale,” the statement said. It did not state the nationalities of those who lost their lives.

The earthquake affected an area that is home to 13.5 million people in Turkey and an unknown number in Syria and stretches farther than the distance from London to Paris or Boston to Philadelphia.

Even with an army of people taking part in the rescue effort, crews had to pick and choose where to help, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The scene from the air showed the scope of devastation, with entire neighbourhoods of high-rise buildings reduced to twisted metal, pulverised concrete and exposed wires.

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