Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas
Rescuers and civilians look for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, close to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake’s epicentre, a day after it struck the country’s southeast [Adem Atlan/AFP]

ISLAMABAD, Feb 8 (News Agencies /APP Web Desk): The death toll from the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday has risen to more than 11,000.

At least 8,574 people have died in Turkey, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday. At least 2,530 have been killed in Syria.

Erdogan was speaking from Kahramanmaras during a visit to some of the areas worst hit by the temblors.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged that there were some issues in responding on the first day since the earthquakes but has urged Turkish people to be patient and united.

He said there had been problems with roads and airports but that everything would get better by the day.

Erdogan also said citizens should only heed communication from authorities and ignore “provocateurs,” as thousands of people complain about a lack of resources and slow response by officials.

New houses will be built, he said, promising that no one will be left in the streets.

“This is the time for us to be united,” Erdogan added.

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas
The bodies of victims are kept at a sports hall following a deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey [Dilara Senkaya/Reuters]

Hundreds of bodies in stadiums and parking lots lie on the ground as relatives carefully lift blankets from their faces to try to identify them.

Nada, a Syrian woman, and her Turkish husband ask a staff member how best to find their niece and aunt among the more than 100 bodies lined up in the parking lot of the Hatay Research Hospital near the southern city of Antakya, Reuters reported.

Nearly 250 schools in Syria’s government-controlled areas have been damaged due to the earthquakes, the country’s state-run SANA news agency reported quoting education minister Darem Tabbaa.

The damaged schools are in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous, Hama, and Idlib, Tabbaa said, adding that 126 schools have been turned into shelters.

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas
Algerian rescue teams take part in the search and rescue operations in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo [AFP]

The White Helmets leading efforts to rescue people buried under rubble in rebel-held areas of earthquake-hit Syria have appealed for international help in their “race against time”.

First responders from the group that was formed a decade ago to save the lives of civilians during Syria’s civil war sprung into action early Monday when a 7.8-magnitude quake rocked Turkey and Syria.

“International rescue teams must come into our region,” said Mohammed Shibli, a spokesperson for the group officially known as the Syria Civil Defence.

Agencies have said those numbers could rise significantly as many people remain trapped under the rubble.

Pictures emerge showing successful rescue operation. A young Turkish boy is saved after being pulled out from under a destroyed building in Hatay, one of the country’s worst-affected areas.

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas
Eight-year-old Yigit Cakmak in his crying mother’s arms after [Erdem Sahin/EPA]

The White Helmets, volunteer first responders in northwestern Syria, have reported at least 1,280 deaths in rebel-held areas.

The death toll could further surge as rescue workers continue search for survivors under the rubbles of thousands of toppled buildings despite freezing-cold weather.

Relatives of victims, and global rescue teams including from Pakistan have also joined the rescue efforts in the worst-hit cities.

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas

“Another miracle,” said the White Helmets, a rescue organisation operating in rebel-control areas in northwestern Syria.

“A child rescued after more than 40 hours of being trapped under the rubble of her house in the city of Salqin in the countryside of Idlib,” it added in a Twitter post.

Countries and organizations from across the globe have responded to the crisis with money, equipment and boots on the ground. Doctors Without Borders says it has 500 staff working in Syria — some of whom lost family members in the quake. NATO said its members are sending more than 1,400 emergency response personnel, CNN reported.

The World Health Organization estimates up to 23 million people could be affected by the earthquake. The situation is particularly dire in Syria, where the UN says nearly 70% of the population was in need of humanitarian assistance before the quake — an issue that has only been compounded by the tragedy.

The damage caused a temporary disruption to the UN’s cross-border aid into Syria, with UN humanitarian teams exploring all avenues to reach those in need. Meanwhile, hospitals in war-hit Syria are “absolutely overloaded,” UNICEF’s representative in Aleppo said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go to the country’s southern region to inspect areas struck by the earthquakes, state-run Anadolu news agency has said.

Erdogan is expected to visit Kahramanmaras city centre first and then the Pazarcik district that was the epicentre of one of Monday’s earthquakes, the agency repoted. The president is later expected to head to Hatay for inspections, it added.

Following the violent earthquakes, throngs of trapped victims used social media to reach out for help and pinpoint their locations for rescuers.

“Friends, we are stuck under the earthquake,” Firat Yayla, a YouTuber known as Charmquell, said in the video shot in a dark space.

“Mother! Are you okay? Mother! Tell me you hid somewhere. Please help!” he added before ending the video with his home address.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria early Monday. Centered near Gaziantep in southern Turkey, the quake was felt as far away as Lebanon and Israel.

Death toll crosses 11,000 as Erdogan visits affected areas
Note: Based on assessment as of 8:00 a.m. E.S.T. on Feb. 6.
Source: U.S. Geological Survey
By Pablo Robles
APP Services