Latest update March 28th, 2023 12:59 AM
Feb 09, 2023 News
…tens of thousands remain under rubble
(Al Jazeera) – The death toll from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake and its aftershocks, which struck the southeastern region of Turkey along the border with Syria, has continued to rise.
The first earthquake struck at 4:17am (01:17 GMT) on Monday and was centred in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake struck at a depth of about 17.9km (11 miles). Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) put the magnitude of the quake at 7.4 near the cities of Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep.
Dozens of aftershocks were recorded following the quake with officials urging people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.
Less than 12 hours later, a second 7.6 magnitude tremor struck the same region.
In a statement carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency, AFAD listed the affected regions so far as Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis. Thousands more have been affected across the border in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Latakia.
Earthquake death toll
At least 9,057 deaths have been reported in Turkey, while 2,530 people have died in Syria. The death toll is likely to keep rising.
More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey, while some 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, authorities said.
Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca said 1,647 people were killed in Hatay alone, the highest toll of any Turkish province. At least 1,846 people had been rescued in Hatay as of Tuesday evening, Koca added.
Turkish authorities say some 13.5 million people have been affected in an area spanning roughly 450km (280 miles) from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east, and 300km (186 miles) from Malatya in the north to Hatay in the south.
International aid amid devastation
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces across southeastern Turkey.
In his speech, Erdogan said 70 countries had offered help in search-and-rescue operations and that Turkey planned to open up hotels in the tourism hub of Antalya, to the west, to temporarily house people affected by the quakes.
On the Syrian side, the areas affected by the earthquakes are divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last opposition-held pocket of land, encircled by Russian-backed government forces.
Humanitarian organisations have said the earthquake has added another layer to the suffering of the population in northwestern Syria, where some 4.1 million people require assistance.
“People are traumatised, they feel helpless,” Adnan Hazem, the Syria spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told Al Jazeera.
100+ powerful aftershocks
During the past two days, Turkey has been hit by more than 100 aftershocks of magnitude 4 and greater. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that occur in the same general area after a big earthquake.
At least 81 magnitude-4 quakes, 20 magnitude-5 quakes, three magnitude-6 quakes and two magnitude-7 quakes have been recorded in southeast Turkey since Monday.
The animated map below shows a time-lapse of all these quakes:
Cold weather hampering rescue efforts
Rescuers are working in freezing temperatures to dig through the remains of buildings flattened by the earthquakes.
More bad weather is expected to hit the region, further hampering rescue operations. Downed buildings and destroyed roads have also made it difficult to find survivors and get crucial aid into affected areas. Several airports have also been closed after being damaged by the earthquakes.
The earthquake’s epicentre is home to millions of Syrian refugees living in Turkey outside the city of Gaziantep. Thousands of residents have been left without shelter in freezing temperatures.
Syrian refugees make up more than 1.7 million of the 15 million people inhabiting the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
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