Irish-based aid agency GOAL has confirmed that 26 workers have died in the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday.
The humanitarian organization said all of the 26 GOAL worker victims were natives of Turkey and Syria. It is the most deaths that GOAL has ever experienced in a single disaster.
The Irish agency's workers fell victim to the violent earthquakes which struck southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria on Feb 6, 2023. At the time of publishing the death toll stands at an estimated 21,719 people. It's estimated that at least 79,487 people have been injured and 373,780 have been displaced.
"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," GOAL CEO Siobhan Walsh said in a statement.
GOAL stated that staff across the region have also lost family members, sustained life-altering injuries, and lost their homes following Monday's violent earthquakes.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin offered his condolences to GOAL and the families of the 26 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," Martin said in a statement.
"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."
GOAL is one of the largest NGOs operating in Southern Turkey and Northwestern Syria in the wake of Monday's earthquakes, with teams working around the clock to support search and rescue missions in the region.
Officials expect the death toll to rise significantly in the coming days as more search and rescue operations are carried out.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday night that the earthquakes were "the disaster of the century".
No Irish fatalities have been reported since Monday's earthquakes, according to the Irish Independent.